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.
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).
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...:(
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.
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.
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.
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...:)