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 Post subject: Test on May 5th. Still not happy with results
 Post Posted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 4:32 pm 
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Students


Posts: 6
Hi!

I started studying for the GMATs actually over a year and a half ago. I spent spring and summer 2011 going over all 8 books of the MGMAT series. By "going over" I meant that I would read each chapter and do the end-of-chapter problems. I wouldn't do the advanced strategies and I never actually did real GMAT problems. My first regret.

Last summer in July, I actually found a good opportunity to change jobs and did so moving about 6 hours away from home. At this point is when I stopped studying from July 2011 to maybe about a month ago when I scheduled my exam for May 5th 2012.

I've been rusty on the material since I took so long off. My plan has been to do practice CAT exams every Saturday and during the week I will do the OG guide problems from each book.

Now - My first attempt at the CAT I didn't refresh on any material and took as much time as I wanted and got a 600. Still not the score I wanted.

My second attempt I gave myself the exact time limit and ended up guessing on about 10 Quant problems and getting them mostly wrong. Verbally I didn't do too much better and in total I got a 540.

My third attempt (yesterday). I set myself up for a 2 minute time limit for each problem so the computer would force me to the next problem if I answered too late. I have learned a lot of material since I started and I was confident I was going to improve but unfortunately I took the test hungry (yes... I know, bad idea) and I really had been tired and distracted. My result for his test was ALSO a 540.

To summarize:
1st test = 600. Un-timed and with no practice before hand.
2nd test = 540. Timed test in total with a lot of guessing and no pacing!
3rd test = 540. Each problem timed and paced with an empty stomach and distractions!
4th test = ??? Should I time the whole thing and rely on myself to pace?

I'm not sure what to do next. When I do OG guide problems in the book, I do very well even when I limit myself to two minutes. For some reason, under test taking conditions, I seem to choke and not do a really good job.

Should I continue taking CAT tests on weekends (I only have two weekends left) or should I work on the content more?


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 Post subject: Re: Test on May 5th. Still not happy with results
 Post Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 2:32 pm 
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ManhattanGMAT Staff


Posts: 7695
Location: San Francisco
Hi, I'm sorry it's taken us so long to get to your post - we've been short-staffed.

Quote:
My plan has been to do practice CAT exams every Saturday and during the week I will do the OG guide problems from each book.


When doing CATs or practice problems, you're not actually *learning* much. You're just checking to see *whether* you've learned from the previous study that you did. This is a common mistake that many students make - don't just do a bunch of problems. The study and analysis that you do between CATs or between problem sets is where 80% of your learning comes.

It sounds like you do have timing problems (everybody does!); read this and start doing what it says:

http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index ... anagement/

Most people need a good 4 to 6 weeks to fix timing problems - FYI. Don't bother to take another CAT until you've spent at least 2 weeks really trying to crack the timing problem - otherwise you're just going to continue to see the same results. (And don't expect the timing problems to be gone in 2 weeks. Just hope that they'll be somewhat better. :)

Quote:
For some reason, under test taking conditions, I seem to choke and not do a really good job.


Everybody does get nervous to some extent, though some people get more nervous than others. I'll include some stress management info below, but a lot of this also has to do with feeling well prepared for both the content AND the timing. If you don't feel prepared, you are of course more likely to panic and under-perform. (And if you realize you're messing up the timing, ditto.)

So, long story short... you don't mention your goal score, but that score is at least higher than a 600 (because you said the 600 was not what you wanted) - so you're unlikely to be ready to take this test by 5 May. (I know it's been 9 days since you posted and you've been studying in that time - but 5 May is only about 3 weeks from your post, and that's not enough time (for most people) to fix just the timing problems, let alone other problems.

Let us know where you're at now and what kind of progress you've made. If you've found a way to make good progress, great, keep going.

If not, first analyze your normally-timed CAT using this article, then come back and share:

http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index ... ice-tests/

(Note: give us your analysis, not just the raw data.)

Next, read this and start doing what it says ASAP:
http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index ... anagement/

You may also want to take a look at the resources in this article:
http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index ... -the-gmat/

And I strongly recommend reading this:
http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index ... to-win-it/

Stress management:
http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index ... anagement/

_________________
Stacey Koprince
Instructor
Director of Online Community
ManhattanGMAT


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 Post subject: Re: Test on May 5th. Still not happy with results
 Post Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 6:47 pm 
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Students


Posts: 6
Thanks for the reply Stacey.

To start off, I want to say that I am in a much better situation now than I was when I wrote the original post. Yesterday I took another MGMAT test and just set the time to 75 minutes per section so that I could pace myself instead of the computer kicking me to the next question. I used the method where I would write down where I should be after 12, 25, and 35 questions and this served me pretty well. As I was taking the test I was very discouraged as the questions took a long time to solve and I ended up having to guess, solve, guess solve, maybe 3 times. When I saw the results, however, I found out that the questions were tough for a reason... I was doing relatively well with a final score of 670.

My goal is 700+ but I'm confident that 670+ will actually get me where I need to be from a business school standpoint. I know MGMAT tests have a deviation of about 50 for actual results so I'm going to continue to study with every effort I've put thus far.

I'm going to start analyzing my test after this post but a high level analysis shows the following:

Quant: FDP is my biggest weakness from both a time and accuracy perspective. The two questions that I spent the most time on were both FDP questions. The first was 4.5 minutes (bad, I know) which I got WRONG; and the second was 3.75 minutes which I got right. I did okay on the 700-800 questions that were NOT FDP. My worry si that FDP was all that I was focusing on this past week so I'm surprised it is still a gap for me. My only explanation for this is that the studying allowed me to get the easy FDP problems correct but hasn't pushed me past the tougher ones.

Another very important point I want to mention is that out of the top 10 questions that I spent the most time on, 9 of the 10 were WRONG. To put it differently, I spent a total of 30 minutes getting 9 questions wrong that should have taken me 18 minutes - a waste of 12 minutes on the wrong answer!


Verb: It's mostly mixed with what I need to work on in verbal. I am able to read passages much quicker now that I went over the RC guide. I do tend to spend too much time on certain RC questions though (for me, 1+ minute on an RC question is too long). My strength, at least in this past test, was CR and that's not really a section I have focused my studies on yet. I plan on doing some this week but I still want to focus on SC which is my biggest struggle.

Same point I made above for Quant can be made for Verbal. I spent 12 minutes getting 4 SC corrections wrong. An average of 3 minutes a problem which should be completed in 1.5 minutes.

Let me know what else I should get out of my analysis. I will be doing the full analysis of each problem where I categorize and create an action item to correct, but other than that, what else should I be looking at?


I've read most of the material that you sent my way. I haven't the ones on stress management and I don't think I've quite fully practiced what you've mentioned in your timing article so I will make sure I read them again. Obviously, I still have a timing issues but I have gotten a lot better.


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 Post subject: Re: Test on May 5th. Still not happy with results
 Post Posted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 4:51 pm 
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ManhattanGMAT Staff


Posts: 7695
Location: San Francisco
Quote:
When I saw the results, however, I found out that the questions were tough for a reason... I was doing relatively well with a final score of 670.


Yes! That's the secret! The better you do, the harder the test feels! That's not how it was in school, so people feel like something's going wrong - but that's really what you want. You want to feel like you have to bail, like you're getting all these too-hard questions... because that means you're actually performing to the best of your ability!

It's not surprising that you found yourself still struggling with FDP - you only just learned it, so you're still figuring out how to "build" to the higher level questions. That's fine.

Quote:
To put it differently, I spent a total of 30 minutes getting 9 questions wrong that should have taken me 18 minutes - a waste of 12 minutes on the wrong answer!


That's a HUGE insight. Next time you're tempted to spend extra time, remember that. You're going to want to RUN away from that question. :)

You're doing a great job with your analysis - focusing on the big picture, drawing takeaways. Just take it that one step further: How does this change things going forward (in terms of both studying and answering test questions). eg, what I typed in the previous paragraph (and sounds like that also applies to SC).

So keep going, keep up the great work, and come back here whenever you need some advice!

_________________
Stacey Koprince
Instructor
Director of Online Community
ManhattanGMAT


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 Post subject: Re: Test on May 5th. Still not happy with results
 Post Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 4:04 pm 
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Students


Posts: 6
Hi Stacey,

Thought I'd give another update from this past week.

Since I'm one week till my exam, this past week wasn't as heavy studying as the weeks before. I'm trying to wind down and focus on timing more than anything else.

I read your article from before and I've followed everything except for probably the most important part - building my "one minute sense". I tried this a few times and I've noticed that it detracts me from actually concentrating on the problem so I haven't given it as much focus as I want to. I'm sure this will hurt me in the long run but my timing has gotten better just from being aware that it is a problem.

I took another test yesterday and tried to recreate testing situations as much as possible. I got a good nights rest the night before, woke up in the morning, prepped as if I was going to take the test at noon and actually started at noon. I did the writing sections and then went on the quant and verbal under the normal time constraints. My result was a 690 with a 45 in quant and a 39 in verbal. I'm happy with these results especially knowing that MGMAT quant tends to be a little bit more difficult than what I've seen in the OG.

As I mentioned above, my timing has improved - instead of spending 12 extra minutes on the wrong answer, it's more like 6. This still isn't great but it's an improvement. I wasn't as rushed this time and didn't have to make a blind guess on problems like I did in the last test.

I spend a lot of time on VIC problems because it takes me forever to realize that I should be picking smart numbers instead of guessing. I learned this maybe 3 tests ago but my brain still has a hard time recognizing and approaching VICs in this manner. EX: I spent 5 minutes on a VIC problem that I got right and 4 minutes on one that I got wrong. Both times I didn't get to the right approach until after 2 minutes.

Two tests ago, I finished the verbal with minutes to spare. On the last test, however, I was cutting it close towards the end and had to rush through the last two SC problems. I've actually went backwards in pacing because I've spent too much time on certain SC and CR problems by either writing down the basic sentence structure or making a T chart. These are methods that I learned in the book but I'm going to try to either take these notes faster or learn how to visualize them in my head.

What would you recommend I do the last week before the test? I don't plan on studying as much but at the minimum I want to take today and tomorrow to analyze yesterday's test, do another practice test on Wednesday, work on the MGMAT flashcards daily, and ensure that I finish the "hot list" problems in the OG Archer.


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 Post subject: Re: Test on May 5th. Still not happy with results
 Post Posted: Fri May 04, 2012 6:40 pm 
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ManhattanGMAT Staff


Posts: 7695
Location: San Francisco
Quote:
I've followed everything except for probably the most important part - building my "one minute sense". I tried this a few times and I've noticed that it detracts me from actually concentrating on the problem


This is one of the reasons the article says it takes 4-6 weeks to fix timing problems. You've got to do it enough that you get used to it and can "forget" about it again. :)

It does sound like you're making progress on the timing, though - keep up the good work.

Quote:
EX: I spent 5 minutes on a VIC problem that I got right and 4 minutes on one that I got wrong. Both times I didn't get to the right approach until after 2 minutes.


Stop! Do one OR the other, not both. You either do algebra or you pick numbers (VIC). Wherever you are at 2 to 2.5 minutes, you stop and pick. You don't have time to try one approach and then, if that doesn't work, the other.

Your test is tomorrow, so all you should do at this point is make sure that you do cut yourself off, but for others reading this: you have to study HOW to make the decision to use algebra vs. VIC. In practice, try the problem the first time under timed conditions and pick ONE method. Afterwards, when you're reviewing the problem, try it the other way. Then ask yourself which way was better for you, WHY it was better, and HOW you will know next time, right from the beginning, that <algebra or VIC> is likely the better method for you on this one. What is it about the problem that tells you "do it this way?" (Hint: the basic rule is: the harder the algebra is for you, the more likely you should be to switch to VIC instead... but what do you consider hard?)

For SC and CR, you don't necessarily need to write something down on *every* problem. For ones that seem easier / more straightforward to you, you can write down less or nothing at all. But on the harder / more convoluted ones, use notes to help you figure out what's going on.

In general, the closer you get to the real test the less you do. Start doing higher and higher level review in the last few days (what are my strategies for the different question types? how do I make educated guesses? what are my timing benchmarks? etc.). Be careful not to burn yourself out - and don't take a practice test within 5 days of the real test (you'll just tire yourself out).

For others reading this, take a look at this two articles:
http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index ... game-plan/
http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index ... to-review/

They discuss what to do during your last 2 weeks, though what's written there can be compressed into 7-10 days if needed.

_________________
Stacey Koprince
Instructor
Director of Online Community
ManhattanGMAT


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 Post subject: Re: Test on May 5th. Still not happy with results
 Post Posted: Sun May 06, 2012 12:24 pm 
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Students


Posts: 6
Well I have some disastrous news from my actual test... actual score = 560!!!

I'm not sure what happened. I went from getting a 560 before any studying to getting 690s on M-CATs, to getting a 560 on the exam?

I wasn't really nervous before the test or even during. When I was doing quant however, the beginning set of questions were just harder than I had experienced in the past. I ended feeling the "two minute pressure" and had to resort to guessing for some earlier questions. When guessing, my educated guessing skills went out the window and most of the time it would be rather random. As I was going through the section, the questions didn't get any easier and I had to guess and guess some more. I only remember a few PS problems where I actually ended up with an answer that was an answer choice. For DS problems... who knows?

Verbal seemed much easier. I was going through the sections, making good time, identifying errors on SC, understanding RC passages, doing the usual on CR and I really thought that my overall score would be saved through the verbal section. The test ends and to my surprise, I did worse on the verbal than I did in the quant!

Part of the problem with quant was that they tested sections that I studied very little - Geo and prob. When taking the M-CATs, Geo and Prob made up a very, very small portion of the rest of the test and I never really focused on them much because I would usually get them right. Unfortunately, the actual GMAT gave me a bigger percentage of these problems.

I'm taking the test again June 16th. I'll have to get wired into learning the IR section which I was hoping to avoid having to do. I'll need a new 30 - 40 day study plan and I plan on developing that today. My goal is to get back to the 700 range but from everything I've heard, it is hard to gain that many points (140) in one month. I don't however think I'm a 560 scorer.

Any ideas on a study plan? Thoughts on my goal of 700 being realistic in one month? Just to summarize my past results

M - CAT - 670
M - CAT - 690
Actual GMAT - 560
July 16th GMAT - Goal: 700


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 Post subject: Re: Test on May 5th. Still not happy with results
 Post Posted: Tue May 08, 2012 9:16 pm 
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Posts: 1
hi anjang86,
I too gave the exam on May 5th and did not do well. I was shocked to see 7-8 700+ level geometry problems.I remmember there was a problem on two polygons intersecting each other and i just stared at the screen. Also the permutation problems were hard to interpret. I thought English was easy but when I saw a 27 on verbal, I realised something is not write. I plan to take some more time for my prep and make my concepts stronger in CR, RC, geo and probability.

Apurva


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 Post subject: Re: Test on May 5th. Still not happy with results
 Post Posted: Tue May 08, 2012 9:28 pm 
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Students


Posts: 6
When do you plan on retaking the test? I plan on taking it June 16th because I want over a month to go over the fundamentals.

I remember EXACTLY what polygon problem you were talking about! I actually had to laugh hysterically when I read that part of your reply because I could do nothing but laugh when I saw it on my testing computer. I wish I could post the problem and try to understand how it's done but obviously that is against the rules.

What are you strategies for re-study? I'm technically not a native english speaker but I moved here from Nepal when I was 5 so there is no excuse for me not to score well on verbal. I picked up some other guides to help me with sentence correction and critical reading and I plan on going back to fundamentals. I didn't touch the 11th edition official verbal and quant guides so once I spend 4 weeks going over fundamentals, I'm going to hit those guides pretty hard doing practice problems again.

If you don't mind me asking, what were your average practice test scores and what was your GMAT score? I'm going to sound like I'm making an excuse here but it seems like a lot of people that have taken the GMAT in the past month really failed compared to their practice scores. I've read testimonials from folks here and on GMATClub that prove this theory.


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 Post subject: Re: Test on May 5th. Still not happy with results
 Post Posted: Sat May 12, 2012 3:52 pm 
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ManhattanGMAT Staff


Posts: 7695
Location: San Francisco
***Please do not EVER discuss content that you see on an official exam, not even a little bit. It is illegal to distribute that information (and that document you signed before the exam said that they could hold you liable if you do!). I will delete your references in your posts - but FYI.***

Please be really careful about rushing back into a re-take. You rushed on the May 5th one to some extent (eg, you only had a few weeks to fix a timing problem that typically takes 4-6 weeks to correct, and you knew that the timing problem wasn't actually fixed by the time you got in there). You don't want to do the same thing and have another disappointing test experience.

Plus, you will now have to take the IR section because you'll be taking the new test. 1 month to achieve the improvement that you want PLUS adding an entirely new section = definitely not enough time.

I agree that it's likely your knowledge level is higher than 560, but your test-taking skill level is currently 560 (because that's what you got), so we have to figure out how to address those areas and get your score back up to where it should be.

We have a pretty good idea of what went wrong on quant - a combination of timing problems and nerves (which likely made each other worse).

Can you give me a run-down of your Q and V subscores on your recent practice tests and on the real test?

Also, re: the different content areas, although GMAC does not tell us how many questions count (vs. the experimentals), we do know that the mix of "counted" questions is the same for everyone. We all have the same number of "counted" geometry questions, algebra questions, etc. If you see a higher number than what is typical, that means some of those were experimentals. You don't know which ones of course, but don't freak out - they don't all count. :)

Finally, be careful about what we call "selection bias." There is always a certain percentage, unfortunately, of students who have a tough exam day. It's really easy to find each other online and to notice those stories once you had a rough day yourself. And, of course, the people who didn't see a big score drop aren't online posting about their experience and seeking advice - so you just never hear from those people...

_________________
Stacey Koprince
Instructor
Director of Online Community
ManhattanGMAT


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