## Likelihood to score 700+?

Study and Strategy questions relating to the GMAT.
StaceyKoprince
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### Re: Likelihood to score 700+?

Nice! Yes, it might be a little inflated if you picked up time (would the problem still be on the screen, but the timing wouldn't be counted, so you had more time on problems?).

The quant section felt awful, truthfully.

Good. You WANT that feeling. If you're really doing terribly, the questions will get a lot easier, and you won't keep feeling awful. The most awful feeling is reserved for when you are working at the absolute peak of your ability - because then you're also seeing a lot of questions that really are too hard for you. You can only get those if you earn them. :)

Have you ever heard of the Peter Principle? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Principle

Well, the way this test works, you rise to the level of your inability. ;)

Oh, wow, and you still had to rush through 6 Qs at the end and got the score that you got? Okay, you're in good shape. You've got work to do, but you're going in the right direction. Keep it up.

From what I understand, higher level questions tend to be less about brute force calculations and more conceptual and strategy-focused. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Yes, there are often "elegant" solutions to really hard questions. But it's often tough to spot the elegant solution unless you really understand the brute force / computation heavy methods as well as the actual theory behind it. That's what lets you cut through the junk.

Are you struggling with all kinds of calculations? Certain things? Usually people are slower only with certain things. Struggling with translation from words to math? Exponent and root manipulation? Hopping back and forth between fractions, decimals, and percents?

Anything that's more pure lower-level computation you can find in our Foundations of Math book - lots of drills to help you make it more automatic.

Here's an article on translation:
http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index ... into-Math/

Next CAT comes when (a) you think you've gotten a good handle on the timing issue, and (b) you've made significant progress on many (but not necessarily all) of the content areas that you identified as weaknesses on your last CAT. Not sure what those are? See below.

http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index ... ice-tests/
Stacey Koprince
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### Re: Likelihood to score 700+?

Hi Stacey,

I was hoping I could get some input on my study plan moving forward. I've finished the OG12 for quant and have moved onto the Quant2 book. Things were going pretty smoothly--I was doing 10 questions in a row to practice my timing, etc. However, now that I've gotten to the 600-700 level questions (somewhere around Q130 out of 175), I feel pretty stumped if I attempt it in the 2:00 time frame. I'm averaging only 50% correct. A lot of the time, I simply cannot do it fast enough, either due to translations or just calculations.

Although this is discouraging, I'm not letting it get me down. I believe I can improve on this and I remember one of your posts saying that you certainly don't need to master everything to get a 700--you just need to be great with the basics. I believe I'm getting there, but it is discouraging to see the drop off in ability between the 500-600 level to 600-700.

I was wondering, does it make sense for me to continue to push forward doing 10 in a row? Or is there a more efficient and effective studying technique. At this point, it's certainly helping me get my 2:00 internal clock developed, but I don't really start "doing" the problems completely until I've gone back and error-checked.

Since my last post, I've done some work on speeding up my calculations, but I think there's still room for improvement.

Any insight is greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Jason
jnelson0612
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### Re: Likelihood to score 700+?

Hi Jason,
Thanks for your question! Stacey is out for a few days this week so I'll do my best to answer, and she'll be back this weekend.

The short answer is that I think you are just fine. It's actually good that you're doing the timed sets of ten questions, even if you can't do all and have to wait to really "do" some of them until you review. Timing is so incredibly critical on the test; it won't help you to study as if timing doesn't matter. Every time that you can't completely do a problem, it's a good opportunity to practice alternate methods (testing answer choices, plugging numbers, testing numbers, etc.) as well as intelligent guessing (are there any answer choices I can cross off? Any answers that are too easy and obvious?). The key to improving on the 600-700s is to deeply review everything that you do and really work on your pattern recognition and your strategy selection and execution. Here's my favorite math review process:

Identify:
1) What type of question is this?
2) What elements of the question are important? Which would help you identify the type of problem? Any keywords?
3) What is the best strategy to solve this problem? Any alternate strategies? Any answer choices I could rule out if I had to guess?
4) Put the problem away and work it again cold in a week (timed). See if you remember the lessons and it comes more easily.
5) If you are still struggling, flashcard the problem and teach it to someone else?

Keep in mind that 50% is not terrible for 600-700 level questions. Hang in there and keep working--you have made a lot of progress already!

Good luck!
Jamie Nelson
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### Re: Likelihood to score 700+?

Hi Jamie and Stacey,

Thanks for your responses. I've since completed the Quant book--the last 20 or so questions seemed more manageable than the preceding 20. Something I found a bit odd, but I'll take what I can get.

I'm happy to report that I finally scored 700 on a MGMAT CAT (Q45 V40).

Seeing as I've finished the MGMAT guides, OG12, and Quant book, where should I go now (my test date is June 2)? I have the Advanced Quant guide, so I'm planning on going through that. I know I also need to work on my timing as well, but I'm not entirely sure how to do that, as I've already completed all of the OG materials.

Also, my verbal scores have hit a plateau at around 38-40 in my 4 CATs, with errors spread pretty evenly across RC, SC, and CR. I've been keeping an error log to help identify what types of questions I get wrong and why I get them wrong. Is there anything else I can do? I'd really like to be scoring around 45, and I'm hoping that this is possible in the remaining 1.5 months that I have.

Finally, how should I be splitting my time between quant and verbal?

Any help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Jason
StaceyKoprince
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### Re: Likelihood to score 700+?

Nice work on your last CAT! I agree with what Jamie said and will just add: you actually want to find places where you can't do the work, it takes you too long, whatever. If you're only doing problems that you can already do, then you're not actually learning anything. :)

When you hit something that stumped you during the 2-min timeframe, afterwards, spend a lot of time on that one. Not just: oh, here's the solution and why didn't I think of that? But: HOW could I have thought of that? What are the clues in the problem that could have alerted me to think about it this way or try this solution method? How am I going to remember / recognize similar clues on future problems? Etc. Really dig into how you're going to handle a new-but-similar problem in future. Then, the next time the clock is ticking and something like that pops up, you'll be a lot more likely to think, "Oh, yeah, I saw something like this before, and for that one, I had to..."

For quant, you're just about at the level to move to the Advanced Quant book, but it looks like you may still have some holes in your foundation there in terms of either content or timing (or both). Analyze that last CAT using this article:

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

And feel free to come back and share your analysis with us.

For verbal, you're right at the cusp of the *truly* exceptional test performances (40 = 89th percentile). The biggest difference between an 85-90th percentile performer and a 95th+ performer (on verbal) is the ability to articulate:

- why someone would pick each wrong answer (that is, what is the trap?)
- why someone would eliminate the right answer (that is, what is the trap?)

Also, for SC, you need to know every last nitpicky rule - but don't study every rule in the language. Study what has actually been tested on real GMAT questions. OG13 is out now and you can also use old questions (verbal supplement, OG11). The new version of GMATPrep (2.0) also has additional problem sets besides the practice tests themselves. (Those practice tests are for the new format that includes Integrated Reasoning, launching 5 June, so you don't have to go do those tests.)

Finally, for SC, there will be a much higher incidence of really hard questions where the right answer actively does NOT sound good and a higher incidence of questions with really subtle meaning issues. Are you able to spot when something that sounds terrible is actually grammatically correct? Or do you (like most people) fall back on your ear at that point and eliminate? Also, how much have you been studying meaning?

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/
Stacey Koprince
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### Re: Likelihood to score 700+?

Hi Stacey,

I'm happy to report that I was able to score significantly higher on my verbal. My total score for the most recent exam was 740 (Q46 V45) and I actually did the essays this time.

Overall, I'm not entirely sure how to feel about my quant score. It has ranged from 44, 45, 47, and 46 for the past 4 exams, in that order. It's more variance than I'd like, although perhaps it's not statistically significant. This time around, I really screwed up timing. I made a note on the top of each scratch paper page about which question I should be on and how much time I should have left, except I did it incorrectly. I was 10 minutes behind at one point because of that...yikes. Additionally, I somewhat stupidly did not answer the last question, which further hurt my quant score, I'm sure.

I noticed that my accuracy for 600 - 700 questions has improved drastically from my previous tests, now in the 75% range. However, my 700 - 800 accuracy dropped considerably. I was scoring around 50% and it dropped to around 25%. I'm not entirely sure why this happened and I'm not sure if this should concern me.

I've noticed that the number of 700 - 800 level questions I received in this exam was quite a bit less than previous exams, even though I thought my performance was on par with my previous exams. While I understand that the official GMAT and practice tests are computer adaptive, do they draw from isolated "pools" of questions with varying amounts of questions from each difficulty level? In other words, if I were to perform similarly on two tests, is it possible that I may see a significantly different number of 700 - 800 level questions?

As always, any insight would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Jason
StaceyKoprince
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### Re: Likelihood to score 700+?

Nice! The quant score variance is not unusual. The trend is generally up, and dropping by 1 point on the last test is not statistically significant. Especially because you really messed up the timing. Fix that timing issue and your quant score will likely recover or possibly go up even more!

I noticed that my accuracy for 600 - 700 questions has improved drastically from my previous tests, now in the 75% range. However, my 700 - 800 accuracy dropped considerably. I was scoring around 50% and it dropped to around 25%. I'm not entirely sure why this happened and I'm not sure if this should concern me.

Good. :) The lower level questions are actually more important, because if you miss those, then you can only score so high. You want to be performing at such a high level that you start getting problems that really are way too hard for you - in which case, you're going to get them wrong. So this is fine.

Our exams pull from the same big pool of questions, and I believe the real test is the same way, although I'm not sure that they've actually disclosed that info. But it is possible to have some fluctuation in the actual number, yes, depending upon the way in which you move through the section. Someone could be doing really well and getting almost all 700+, then crash and burn towards the end and the score could drop significantly. Someone else could be on more of a steady trajectory, so the difficulty levels wouldn't have big peaks and crashes, and that could result in a lower number of 700+ Qs overall even though the final score might be higher. (This is all because wherever you end is what you get in terms of score - it isn't the case that you finish and then everything gets averaged together.)
Stacey Koprince
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### Re: Likelihood to score 700+?

Hi Stacey,

I just took the GMAT and, unfortunately, I did not get my ideal score. I scored 690 (Q46, V38). I had been scoring consistently between 720 - 740 in my practice tests, including GMATPrep with Q46-47 and V42-44.

While I am disappointed, I'm really just more curious as to what happened. I really thought quant was going well--better than it had ever gone in the past. My pacing was much better. In fact, I actually finished with an extra 30 seconds, whereas I typically rushed the last two questions. I was incredibly surprised when I saw the (relatively low) raw score of 46.

Then came verbal. It started out fine, but then I hit a wall. I couldn't focus anymore and the verbal seemed more difficult than it ever had in the past. I was surprised that I hit that wall, as I had practiced full length tests. Normally there are some SC that confuse me, but almost all of them confounded me this time around. Additionally, I typically don't have issues with RC and CR, but I found myself guessing on more than I'd like to admit.

For my own mental health, I'm going to take a week off or so. I've been feeling pretty burnt out. However, I'd like to establish some type of attack plan for when I do resume and I was hoping you could give some insight into that.

Some thoughts...

1. Reset the GMATPrep tests and retake them to get a better idea of what they typically try to trick you on
2. Review MGMAT SC book
3. Review MGMAT Advanced Quant book
4. I'm not sure if my error log is helpful anymore, especially in quant. I've been scoring around 80% correct in the 600 - 800 level questions, with a pretty even split across all subject types.
5. Ideally, I'd like to be scoring Q50 and V45 in order to build a comfortable buffer for the next test

Until next time...
Jason
StaceyKoprince
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### Re: Likelihood to score 700+?

I know you were hoping for a 7xx score, but a 690 is a really great score - so give yourself some credit. :) There's not even a statistically significant difference between 700 and 690 - it just looks really different psychologically because of that starting number.

The other good news is that the Q and V scores are relatively balanced, which means you don't have one much lower score (to go with one much higher score).

In fact, at this point, I strongly urge you to do a bit of research into the programs to which you plan to apply in order to decide whether your time is best spent taking the GMAT again or doing something else that might help your application more. (I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't take it again - just that the 690 is high enough that it is now possible there's something else that would be better to do for your application than this.)

Hmm, you describe feeling like you hit a wall on verbal, which usually means mental fatigue. One aspect of that is something for which you couldn't have prepared: you knew the practice tests didn't count, and you knew the real thing did, so you're naturally going to be pouring that much more of your brain energy into the real thing.

How did IR feel? Do you feel you did enough practice with IR? Just want to make sure that didn't tire you out more than normal.

How was your timing by the time you got to the real test? Could that have flared up again? In particular, I see a lot of people who finish the test on time but who allocate time poorly between questions - spending too long when the question is too hard anyway, speeding up a bit on the easier questions to make up the time, then making careless mistakes, which "erodes" the score.

It looks like your quant score was in line with GMATPrep but your verbal represented a drop. Given what you described, I'm thinking there likely was at least some mental fatigue going on. I also wonder whether you were fully prepared for the increasing incidence of "convoluted" SC questions (for lack of a better description). These are ones where big parts of the sentence are moving around or changing, more questions depend upon meaning to make the final distinction, etc.

You are at the point where you would benefit from the Advanced Quant book, yes - so that's a good plan. I also think it's fine to do GMATPrep repeatedly (or just look up questions that people have posted online) in order to expose yourself to lots of questions. (NOTE to others reading: only do this after you've used the tests normally - don't waste the GMATPrep CATs!)

If you're going to do that, though, then make sure you're really analyzing these things. How? I've given you some of these before, but like this:
http://www.manhattangmat.com/articles/a ... roblem.cfm

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

Also go back over our blog for the past 9 months and keep an eye out for any of my posts on SC and CR. There's a bunch of stuff in there that will help with various recent trends on the test (SC) and new / updated strategies for answering (CR).

But before you do any of that, do some research into "your" schools, go talk to an admissions consultant, lay out your profile and see where your time is best spent over the next few months. :)
Stacey Koprince
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### Re: Likelihood to score 700+?

Stacey,

Thanks again for the response. I'm actually less than a year out of undergrad, so I've got some time before I actually decide to apply for grad school. For the record, I'm aiming for a top 5 program--typically they have a median score of around ~730 with at least 80th percentile in quant, if I'm not mistaken.

I have indeed read the articles you linked, but I'll go through them again for good measure.

To answer your question about IR, I actually took the test on June 2, so it was still the old format of the test with two essays. I did invest a little more mental effort in the essays, but I don't know if that extra effort is in line with the amount of fatigue/inability to focus I experienced with verbal.

In terms of timing on quant, it's completely possible that I spent too much time on difficult questions at the expense of easier questions, leading to careless errors. The reason I say this is because I was actually ahead of the 2 minute per question pace for a good portion of the quant section, something that has never happened to me in the past. Perhaps this is the reason for my lower score? I was hyper aware of timing during the actual test, especially because I had yet to finish a practice test with good timing. It's completely possible I was too extreme with timing, rushing and guessing when I shouldn't have. I still feel like I was able to solve quite a few "tricky" questions that I typically am not able to solve, so I'm still surprised that my quant score was only 46.

Have there been significant changes in CR and SC in the test recently? I studied using OG12 and the old GMATPrep software, and was consistently scoring 4-6 points higher.

I've already gone through the advanced quant guide, although now I'm starting to think maybe I didn't use it as effectively as possible. I'll be sure to review it again. Are there other materials you suggest I can use? If not, what is the best way to reuse materials?

Thanks again for all of your help.

Thanks,
Jason
StaceyKoprince
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### Re: Likelihood to score 700+?

The reason I say this is because I was actually ahead of the 2 minute per question pace for a good portion of the quant section, something that has never happened to me in the past.
I was hyper aware of timing during the actual test, especially because I had yet to finish a practice test with good timing.

Ding, ding, ding. Yep. You overcompensated, which is one typical stage along the path to nailing the timing - but you want that overcompensation to happen in practice, not on the real test, obviously.

You'll eventually find the right balance, but you need to do some more work with the timing to get there.

You can reuse old materials for this - learning how to get more efficient at some questions that take you too long, learning how to let go and guess on other ones that are Just Too Hard, etc. Learn HOW using the old materials, then use new materials to test yourself (to see whether you really did learn how).

Re: verbal, there have been changes to SC and CR over the past year and those changes wouldn't have been in OG12 or GMATPrep. The proportion of SC questions dealing with meaning has been increasing - meaning questions have always existed, but not in as high a proportion. Also, the proportion of CR questions written in the "Complete the Argument" or "Fill in the Blank" format has also been increasing (any argument type can be written this way - the important thing is to know how to recognize which type of argument it is). Did you feel like you saw any of these changes on the real test? (For SC, it might have felt more like "I don't understand what the original sentence is trying to say" or "I can't find splits" or "I've narrowed it down to 2 but now I have no idea how to decide.")

I just wrote an article about the SC stuff - check our blog over the next few days (not sure when it's going to go live). If you think CR was an issue, you may want to look into the 5th edition of our CR book - we added a chapter on how to deal with Complete the Argument types and also revamped the general CR strategy. Here's an idea of what that general strategy looks like now:

http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index ... g-problem/

Depending on whether you took our course, etc, you may be eligible for a discount on that new book - talk to our student services team (studentservices@manhattangmat.com or 800.576.GMAT).

Sources of new official questions:
- GMATPrep 2.0 (CATs have roughly same database of questions, but there are 15 free practice questions of each type, including IR, and you can also buy GMATPrep Pack #1, which consists of ~200 Q and ~200 V plus 24 IR questions - total cost \$25.

But again remember that you're going to be using your old Qs too. Learn from the old, then test yourself on the new - that's your mantra. :)
Stacey Koprince
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jhwang116
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### Re: Likelihood to score 700+?

Hi Stacey,

Well, I'm back again, after continuing to study and refine my weak areas. I've taken a look at all the articles you posted, as well as looking through the blog for SC and CR articles.

I just took the quant portion of a CAT today, and I saw more than a handful of repeats--I want to say around 15+!

By the way, my quant score went down, even despite these repeats, to 45. More than a few of the errors I made were due to sloppy calculations and/or understanding of the question prompt. Overall, I felt much more comfortable with the material and fewer questions absolutely "stumped" me. I'm hoping this drop is just a fluke, perhaps due to careless errors and/or not taking a CAT in 30+ days. Still, a drop with repeat questions is somewhat discouraging.

My main question is this: How many repeated questions can I expect to get? I saw in one of your posts that I'll likely see more repeated questions if I haven't improved drastically. That being said, at the Q45+ level, is the question bank for 600 - 800 questions pretty limited? Is there a better use of my time?

Thanks,
Jason
jmuduke08
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### Re: Likelihood to score 700+?

jhwang116,

I was hoping to ask you for some quick advice on the best method you found for breaking the 700 barrier on your practice tests. My last four practice tests have been in the 670-680 range. My quant is the lower score so I was wondering if you had any tips on how you boosted your quant to get you from the 680 to 700 range. I.e. what was most helpful: the Adv Quant book or timed sets, etc?

Thanks!
jhwang116
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### Re: Likelihood to score 700+?

Hey,

I would say the biggest jump of improvement for me came with getting a better handle on timing. I think I went from Q38 to Q44 in less than a month just by being more aware of timing. The biggest thing to learn is when to "let go." I improved my timing overall by working on sets of 10 or so questions in a row, trying to finish within 2 minutes for each question. By doing this, I was able to get a better internal 2-minute clock, as well as build stamina.

On a final note, the Advanced Quant book shouldn't really be used until you're comfortably scoring Q45.

Hope this helps,
Jason
StaceyKoprince
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### Re: Likelihood to score 700+?

Re: the repeats question (first new post), it can really vary and it is the luck of the draw to some extent. It also depends how much you happen to remember - there are plenty of people who don't remember the repeated questions. :)

You're really remembering them, though, so it sounds like you need to get a new set of tests. We've negotiated a discount for our students with 800Score (note: whether you qualify depends upon what you've actually done with us). Check your student center for the discount or contact studentservices@manhattangmat.com to ask.

I'm hoping this drop is just a fluke, perhaps due to careless errors and/or not taking a CAT in 30+ days.

There's a good way to find out. Start going through all the questions. :) Ask yourself exactly why you missed something. If it was due to a careless error, don't just say "oh well." Articulate *precisely* what caused the error and figure out what you can do differently next time to minimize the chances of repeating the same kind of error.

Thanks for answering your fellow student's request for advice and I LOVE what you had to say. Too many people don't realize how huge of an impact the timing has - and it's hard to understand intuitively that getting some questions wrong faster is actually a strategic advantage that can lift your score. But that is exactly how things work. :)
Stacey Koprince
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