Study and Strategy questions relating to the GMAT.
SadokK422
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Struggling to get to where I am supposed to be...

by SadokK422 Fri Oct 30, 2020 5:24 am

Hello everybody,

I am writing this post while being sad and devastated. I really do not know what to do anymore at this point and would need some advice.

I decided in June to go for the MBA and started preparing for the GMAT. Months later, after getting a 740 (Q49, V42) in an official CAT (first try) in early september, I sat for my first GMAT (online) in end of the month. Unfortunately, a lot of drama happened with my proctor and it ended up make me lose every ounce of focus I had. I scored a 670 (Q47, V35), which is only 10 points higher than the baseline OG CAT that I did in June. I knew I was going to score this score because I was mentally out.

I went on with my preparation and sat for the second online GMAT couple weeks later. I had issues on timing in Verbal and I focused on improving this. Three or four days before the D-day, I scored a 750 (Q51, V40) in an OG CAT (2nd try). I thought I was ready this time. Unfortunately, the same verbal problems reappeared again. My mind wasn't sharp enough and I completely mismanaged my strategy. I endded up scoring, again, a 670 (Q48, V34).

Knowing what my problem was (timing in Verbal), I worked really hard for the following two weeks to fix this and took 2 OG CATs (2nd try). I scored a 740 (Q49, V41) and then a 760 (Q50, V42). Amazing scores. Feeling confident, but not cocky, I decided that I was ready, traveled to another city (no GMAT center here) and took the test. This time, no major timing problems with Verbal. I thought it should work out - probably not amazingly as in the CATs but at least something good. I ended up scoring 680 (V46, V36). Terrible performance in Quant and in Verbal (although no major time pressure in Verbal this time).

I have no idea what is wrong with me. What am I doing wrong? I understand the first two failures, but what happened this time?
It is already end of October, deadlines to submit applications are in January, and I haven't even started with that piece yet...

Any advice, similar experiences, and follow-up questions are very welcome.

Thank you...
StaceyKoprince
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Re: Struggling to get to where I am supposed to be...

by StaceyKoprince Mon Nov 02, 2020 6:56 pm

I'm sorry that this test is such a struggle! If it helps at all: You are not alone.

First, if you took our complete course, then you're eligible for one free Post-Exam Assessment (if you haven't done it already). This is a meeting with an instructor to debrief from test day and come up with a plan to re-take the test. If this applies to you (or if you think it might), please send an email to gmat@manhattanprep.com to request the Post-Exam Assessment.

You mention time management as an issue on Verbal and I'd like to know more about that. What was happening—were you spending too much time earlier on and then running out of time towards the end of the section? Or was something else happening?

First, it's not uncommon for people to be fine on practice tests but to have issues on the real thing because they know the real thing counts now. And one of the really common things to happen is this: Because you know it counts now, you get really invested in checking EVERYthing a million times to MAKE SURE you're right (but on a practice test, you'd have been more willing to just pick and move on because it wasn't the real thing)...and then, boom, there goes your timing. And since the GMAT is a "where you end is what you get" test, if your score drops by the end of the section...well, where you end is what you get.

I have a couple of hypotheses about what could have happened on the third test.

Hypothesis #1: When we're trying to correct an issue, we sometimes go too far in the other direction—we overcorrect, basically. And so, while you were in the test center for the third exam, your brain may have been subconsciously flashing back to running out of time the first two times (if that's what happened), and that would cause you to push yourself even faster than you did on practice tests (again, because you know it really counts now), and so you can end up going too far in the opposite direction. You start rushing just a little too much and making careless mistakes without realizing it—and that pulls your score down.

Hypothesis #2: I see this even more than hypothesis #1. People think that they fixed their time problem but what they actually did was speed up a little bit on all of the problems that they know how to do (thereby increasing the chances of making a careless mistake) and still spending too long on some problems (thereby using up not just precious time but, more important, precious mental energy) on the stuff that they don't really know how to do (or on which they're inconsistent).

That second hypothesis leads to an increased incidence of careless mistakes in two ways—both because you're now rushing the stuff you know how to do and because you're still spending too much mental energy on the too-hard stuff. Double whammy.

So the first question is just to ask whether you think either of these could be what happened. What do you think from a qualitative perspective?

Quantitatively, hypothesis #2 would show up in your practice test data if you timed yourself on each question on the official practice test (or took one of our practice tests—we time the questions for you).

Hypothesis #1 wouldn't show up in practice test data, but it could show up in the official Enhanced Score Report (and so could hypothesis #2). They aggregate the data into four "quadrants" of the test (ie, they don't give us data question by question), but it's still often possible to tell whether one of these things is going on.

They do charge for the Enhanced Score Report (ESR)—I think it's about USD30. This post talks about what data is included and how to analyze it:
https://www.manhattanprep.com/gmat/blog/enhanced-score-report-part-1/

Take a look to see whether you think you might want to get it. There is always a risk that your data aggregates in a way that means we can't tell much, so I can't guarantee that the data will be useful. In general, the timing and performance data is pretty good for both the Q and V sections. The data on content is more useful on the Q side than the V side. But if you're baffled as to what's going wrong, then this is one way to try to get some real data to figure out the answer.

If you do get it, feel free to tell me the information here. Part of the details are written out in a way that you can copy-paste, but that written part doesn't include the correct vs. incorrect data on the timing pie charts (what your average times were for correct vs. incorrect problems by quadrant). I definitely need that detail in order to try to figure out what was happening with timing.

Finally, bigger picture. How much of a factor do you think performance anxiety is playing in this? We're all more nervous on real tests than on practice ones, of course. But some people feel that anxiety more strongly than others and it can really affect your performance on test day. A lot of times, people will report feeling full of adrenaline—and some adrenaline is great. But too much adrenaline is actually an anxiety thing and can negatively impact your performance.

How did you sleep the night before? The week before? How did you feel the day or two before and the day of? What did you do, study-wise, in the 2-3 days before the exam? The morning of?

What differences do you remember, no matter how small, between how the real exam felt and how the practice exams felt?

After your official exams, did you remember as much detail about the exam content and experience as you do after practice exams? If there's a significant difference—if you remember significantly less after the real one—that can indicate mental fatigue or performance anxiety or both (they're highly interrelated).
Stacey Koprince
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SadokK422
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Re: Struggling to get to where I am supposed to be...

by SadokK422 Tue Nov 03, 2020 8:47 am

Stacey, amazing reply! Thank you very much for your time.

Here is one more thing that baffles me: I took an official CAT from mba.com this past Sunday and I scored again 760! ( I reinittiated it for the first time - so yes I saw some questions that I knew already but still).

Unfortunately I already used my post-exam assessment after my first GMAT...

--------

I am going to respond point by point to your message:

You mention time management as an issue on Verbal and I'd like to know more about that. What was happening—were you spending too much time earlier on and then running out of time towards the end of the section? Or was something else happening?

Yes exactly! At one point during my preparation, I noticed that I wasn't analyzing the questions , ending up thinking that I did good in Verbal but then scoring in the mid 30s. So I started to take more time, which then led to timing problems. In the past month, before and after my second GMAT, I started working on solving this dilemma and I think that I am alright now, judging from the 5 CATs that I took lately.

I have a couple of hypotheses about what could have happened on the third test

I think your two hypotheses are correct! I ordered the ESR and I found out that I performed poorly on areas that were supposed to be strengths.
For instance, in Sentence Correction, I had about 50% of the questions wrong!!! Usually that's my strongest area in Verbal...

Another thing that was interesting: when I started the exam (Quant), I somehow struggled already at the 4th question or so. I ended up spending 6mn on this question according to ESR!!! This is something that I never did in an official CAT. So I guess pressure and nerves played an important role here.

Finally, bigger picture. How much of a factor do you think performance anxiety is playing in this? We're all more nervous on real tests than on practice ones, of course. But some people feel that anxiety more strongly than others and it can really affect your performance on test day. A lot of times, people will report feeling full of adrenaline—and some adrenaline is great. But too much adrenaline is actually an anxiety thing and can negatively impact your performance.

I think it played a big role unfortunately... I thought that I was relaxed given that I scored a 740 and a 760 in the week preceding the exam, but I guess I lied to myself and didn't know how to manage this...

How did you sleep the night before? The week before? How did you feel the day or two before and the day of? What did you do, study-wise, in the 2-3 days before the exam? The morning of?

There is no test center in my city, so I had to travel the afternoon before the test. Got myself a nice hotel and made a plan. I ended up however reviewing notes pretty much the whole day. 2 days before the exam I even took a CAT because I felt I needed to confirm the result that I got in the previous CAT (I know that you recommend against that). Sleeping wise, I slept alright but my mind was already awake at 5 am - making sure I am not going to miss my alarm clock...

What differences do you remember, no matter how small, between how the real exam felt and how the practice exams felt?

I am at the point where I am no longer stressed when I take practice exams. For example, I had a timing problem in the last CAT took in Quant, but I bailed on the right questions and ended up scoring 49, which isn't bad.
In the exam last week, I felt a bit "weird". Having to wait for a staff member to escort you to your room and having no time to breath and focus probably played a role. It is also already November and I haven't started preparing my applications. This I think makes me want to get over with the GMAT asap, which in turns increase stress of failing...

After your official exams, did you remember as much detail about the exam content and experience as you do after practice exams? If there's a significant difference—if you remember significantly less after the real one—that can indicate mental fatigue or performance anxiety or both (they're highly interrelated).

This question is the cherry at the top :D I only remeber ONE single question of the exam. A Geometry question where I did all the work correctly and then didn't divide by 2 at the end. Remembered it the second I pressed "Yes" :D
Otherwise, I do not remember anything. I was already shocked couple hours after the exam how nothing was left in my head anymore...

-------------------------------------
Copy / Paste from ESR:


Verbal Section Performance

YOUR OVERALL VERBAL SCORE: 36 (80th percentile)

Your Verbal score of 36 is higher than 80% of GMAT Exam scores recorded in the past three years. The mean score for this section is 27.11.
Your performance on Critical Reasoning questions was equivalent to a score of 40, which is better than 84% of GMAT Exam scores recorded in the past three years. The mean score for this sub-section is 27.59.
Your performance of 75% on Analysis/Critique questions is considered Above Average.
Your performance of 75% on Construction/Plan questions is considered Above Average.
Your performance on Reading Comprehension questions was equivalent to a score of 35, which is better than 72% of GMAT Exam scores recorded in the past three years. The mean score for this sub-section is 27.17.
Your performance of 80% on Identify Inferred Idea questions is considered Above Average.
Your performance of 80% on Identify Stated Idea questions is considered Above Average.
Your performance on Sentence Correction questions was equivalent to a score of 35, which is better than 72% of GMAT Exam scores recorded in the past three years. The mean score for this sub-section is 27.34.
Your performance of 57% on Grammar questions is considered Average.
Your performance of 40% on Communication questions is considered Weak.
You completed 36 questions in the Verbal section.
You responded correctly to 75% of the first set of questions, 57% of the second set of questions, 100% of the third set of questions and 38% of the final set of questions.
The average difficulty of questions presented to you in the first set of questions was Medium, the average for the second set of questions was Medium , the average for the third set of questions was Medium and was Medium for the final set of questions.
The average time it took you to respond to the first set of questions presented was 1:53, the average time for the second set of questions was 2:25, the average time for the third set of questions was 1:34 and 1:27 for the final set of questions.
Please Note: If you sat for the GMAT exam prior to April 16, 2018 this section contained 41 questions, on or after April 16, 2018 the section consists of 36 questions.

MEAN SCORE: 27.11 (46th percentile)

TIME MANAGEMENT - VERBAL

In the first set of questions you answered 75% correctly and 25% incorrectly.
In the second set of questions you answered 57% correctly and 43% incorrectly.
In the third set of questions you answered 100% correctly and 0% either incorrectly or did not answer.
In the final set of questions you answered 38% correctly and 62% either incorrectly or did not answer.

MEAN TIME: 1:44 minutes

VERBAL PERFORMANCE PROGRESSION:

In the first set of questions you answered 75% correctly and 25% incorrectly.
In the second set of questions you answered 57% correctly and 43% incorrectly.
In the third set of questions you answered 100% correctly and 0% either incorrectly or did not answer.
In the final set of questions you answered 38% correctly and 62% either incorrectly or did not answer.

DIFFICULTY OF VERBAL QUESTIONS ANSWERED:

In the first set of questions the average level of difficulty for questions presented to you was Medium.
In the second set of questions the average level of difficulty for questions presented to you was Medium.
In the third set of questions the average level of difficulty for questions presented to you was Medium.
In the final set of questions the average level of difficulty for questions presented to you was Medium.

VERBAL TIME MANAGEMENT:

Average time per correct response:
In the first set of questions you spent an average of 1:54 minutes on each correct answer and 1:50 minutes on each incorrect answer.
In the second set of questions you spent an average of 2:52 minutes on each correct answer and 1:50 minutes on each incorrect answer.
In the third set of questions you spent an average of 1:34 minutes on each correct answer and 0:00 minutes on each incorrect answer.
In the final set of questions you spent an average of 1:49 minutes on each correct answer and 1:15 minutes on each incorrect answer.


---------------------------------------


Quantitative Section Performance

YOUR OVERALL QUANTITATIVE SCORE: 46 (57th percentile)

Your Quantitative score of 46 is higher than 57% of GMAT Exam scores recorded in the past three years. The mean score for this section is 40.38.
Your performance on Problem Solving questions was equivalent to a score of 45. Your score is better than 53% of all sub-section scores recorded in the past three years. The mean for all test takers is 40.39.
Your performance on Data Sufficiency questions was equivalent to a score of 47. Your score is better than 56% of all sub-section scores recorded in the past three years. The mean for all test takers is 40.32.
Your performance on Arithmetic questions was equivalent to a score of 48. Your score is better than 64% of all sub-section scores recorded in the past three years. The mean for all test takers is 40.55.
Your performance on Algebra/Geometry questions was equivalent to a score of 44. Your score is better than 48% of all sub-section scores recorded in the past three years. The mean for all test takers is 40.23.
Your performance of 33% on Geometry questions is considered Weak.
Your performance of 50% on Rates/Ratio/Percent questions is considered Weak.
Your performance of 44% on Value/Order/Factors questions is considered Weak.
Your performance of 100% on Equal./Inequal./Alg. questions is considered Very Strong.
Your performance of 100% on Counting/Sets/Series questions is considered Very Strong.
You completed 31 questions in the Quantitative section.
You responded correctly to 86% of the first set of questions, 57% of the second set of questions, 57% of the third set of questions and 57% of the final set of questions..
The average difficulty of questions presented to you in the first set of questions was Medium, the average for the second set of questions was Medium High, the average for the third set of questions was Medium High and was Medium High for the final set of questions.
The average time it took you to respond to the first set of questions presented was 2:10, the average time for the second set of questions was 2:38, the average time for the third set of questions was 2:06 and 1:10 for the final set of questions.
Please Note: If you sat for the GMAT exam prior to April 16, 2018 this section contained 37 questions, on or after April 16, 2018 the section consists of 31 questions.

MEAN SCORE 40.38 (36th percentile)

TIME MANAGEMENT - QUANTITATIVE

Your mean response time for Quant questions was 2:01, compared to the mean of all sub-section scores recorded in the past three years which was 1:56.
Your mean response time for Problem Solving questions was 2:08, compared to the mean of all sub-section scores recorded in the past three years which was 2:06.
Your mean response time for Data Sufficiency questions was 1:52, compared to the mean of all sub-section scores recorded in the past three years which was 1:43.
Your mean response time for Arithmetic questions was 1:55, compared to the mean of all sub-section scores recorded in the past three years which was 1:55.
Your mean response time for Algebra/Geometry questions was 2:09, compared to the mean of all sub-section scores recorded in the past three years which was 1:56.

MEAN TIME FOR ALL TEST TAKERS: 1:56 minutes

QUANTITATIVE PERFORMANCE PROGRESSION:

Average Difficulty of questions answered correctly/incorrectly broken down into four sections.
In the first set of questions you answered 86% correctly and 14% incorrectly.
In the second set of questions you answered 57% correctly and 43% incorrectly.
In the third set of questions you answered 57% correctly and 43% either incorrectly or did not answer.
In the final set of questions you answered 57% correctly and 43% either incorrectly or did not answer.

DIFFICULTY OF QUANTITATIVE QUESTIONS ANSWERED:

In the first set of questions the average level of difficulty for questions presented to you was Medium.
In the second set of questions the average level of difficulty for questions presented to you was Medium High.
In the third set of questions the average level of difficulty for questions presented to you was Medium High.
In the final set of questions the average level of difficulty for questions presented to you was Medium High.

QUANTITATIVE TIME MANAGEMENT:

Average time per correct response:
In the first set of questions you spent an average of 1:30 minutes on each correct answer and 6:12 minutes on each incorrect answer.
In the second set of questions you spent an average of 2:33 minutes on each correct answer and 2:45 minutes on each incorrect answer.
In the third set of questions you spent an average of 2:18 minutes on each correct answer and 1:50 minutes on each incorrect answer.
In the final set of questions you spent an average of 1:02 minutes on each correct answer and 1:21 minutes on each incorrect answer.



----------------------------------------

Thank you for keeping up with the long post. Looking forward to talk to you further :)
StaceyKoprince
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Re: Struggling to get to where I am supposed to be...

by StaceyKoprince Fri Nov 06, 2020 2:12 am

Ok, your last comment is the most telling one. The fact that you couldn't remember most of the test means that you were experiencing some pretty significant mental fatigue / stress.

You know the content. You couldn't have done that well on so many practice tests if you didn't. But you haven't really gotten the time management / exec decision making aspect worked out yet and the performance anxiety piece is adding its own burden—those two things together are really going to hurt you during the official test.

So let's start with mindfulness training. Read more about mindfulness here:
https://www.manhattanprep.com/gmat/blog/stressed-out-meditate-to-lower-your-anxiety-and-boost-your-gmat-score/

I link to a resource from UCLA in that post. There's also this program:
http://www.10percenthappier.com/mindful ... he-basics/
It has a free 1-week trial and is then paid, but I've had several students who have really liked it, so that's another option.

And a colleague of mine, Logan Thompson, wrote this book about mindfulness specifically for standardized test-takers:
https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Content-M ... 07VG9R5ML/

I do want to mention that some amount of stress / adrenaline is actually good on test day—it can help you to focus better. And you should feel some nervousness (or you wouldn't be human!). The goal is not to eliminate the anxiety. It's just to get it to a manageable level so that it doesn't derail you on test day.

You mention also feeling stress around the fact that you need to work on apps. Start in on the mindfulness training and figure out the 2-3 schools that you definitely want to apply to for second round. (You can do more later or you can also do some in third round—don't worry about that right now.) Do a little GMAT practice just to keep your skills up, but spend a couple of weeks focused mostly on apps and mindfulness.

Then you can come back to the test. At that point, you'll know what you need to do for the apps and you'll also have some of it done, so it won't feel like this big unknown is hanging over you and adding to your stress.

You've taken the official test 3 times now and they've all been in the past few months, right? You can take it a total of 5 times in a 12-month period (and 8 times lifetime), so you've got 2 more shots for this application cycle.

It's good that you still have 2 left, but that fact also might stress you out when you take the test again. So I also want you to spend a little time just thinking through the worst case scenario: You don't get the score you want this year.

Okay, so you would have two broad choices—you might decide to postpone for a year or you might decide to change the mix of schools to which you apply. Which would you prefer? (There's not a right answer to that; it's entirely a personal choice based on your own goals.)

Keep thinking down that path. A lot of times, we start panicking when we have a certain plan and then something isn't going right according to that plan. And instead of thinking, ok, how can I adjust my plan...we start working more frantically to make our original plan work and that just stresses us out more and makes it even harder for that original plan to work. Life tosses things at us and we have to adjust our plans all the time. Roll with it. :D

When you're ready to take another practice test, I'd use our practice tests, not the official ones. The official ones aren't challenging you on a time-management basis but the real test is—and ours should, too.

Your analysis of your ESR data was very good—and the data was really helpful! You had to rush in the fourth quadrant for both Q and V. So yes, I think my hypothesis #2 last time was correct—you have been rushing certain questions but spending much too long on others and while overall you aren't running out of time completely (which is good!), you are still not making the best decisions about what NOT to do. That 6 min quant question is a prime example.

That points to a larger problem with your overall executive reasoning / decision making. Read this or watch the webinar recording linked in it:
https://www.manhattanprep.com/gmat/blog/2016/05/26/develop-a-business-mindset-to-maximize-your-roi-on-the-gmat/


Re-read / watch multiple times if needed. You really need to believe that choosing *not* to invest is your best business decision sometimes—just like that's the best business decision in the real world sometimes. (A lot of the time, actually!) And then you need to practice that until it's so deeply ingrained that you don't abandon that path when you get stressed out on the real test. (And you also need to practice your mindfulness enough that it helps you not to get too stressed out.)

Like I said, your content is there. (There's always things you can improve a bit of course—and certainly address any tendencies you have towards certain kinds of careless mistakes—but this isn't the big issue.) This is about getting your exec reasoning / decision-making in the right space—especially knowing where you do and do NOT want to invest—and having the right tools available to help you keep your performance anxiety at a manageable level. And fixing the first part will actually help with the second because you won't be putting yourself into mini-timing holes and having to rush to catch back up. Makes a world of difference as you work through each section.

You can do this!
Stacey Koprince
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Re: Struggling to get to where I am supposed to be...

by ElisabethH925 Mon Nov 16, 2020 11:42 am

Hi everyone! I see that I am not the one who is not good in verbal part in GMAT exam. Time running so fast during the exam that is is impossible for me to pass and get high score. But I do not regret that i found https://www.essayedge.com/samples/college-recommendation-letter/ My teacher found all materials for me and helped me to pass with great results.
Last edited by ElisabethH925 on Wed Nov 18, 2020 6:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
StaceyKoprince
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Re: Struggling to get to where I am supposed to be...

by StaceyKoprince Mon Nov 16, 2020 7:40 pm

Hi, Elisabeth, welcome to the forums. Do you have a question or anything you'd like to discuss? If so, please start a new post and let us know what you'd like to talk about!
Stacey Koprince
Instructor
Content & Curriculum Lead
ManhattanPrep