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Self-Analysis of Your GMAT Performance MUST Include Actual Analysis

By Max Peterson On Nov 13, 2015 In  Quant Verbal Study Plans General GMAT 

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Studying for the GMAT can be a challenging endeavor for many Test Takers. Arguably, one of the most common score goals for Test Takers (if not THE most common score goal) is 700+, but only about 10% of those same people can actually achieve that goal. One of the interesting aspects of scoring at that level though is that while you don’t have to be a ‘genius’, you do have to be able to figure out WHY you’re not getting questions correct... and then do specific work to fix those issues.  As a GMAT Expert, I can tell you that the number of GMATers who cannot define WHY they’re under-performing is staggering. The reality is that the answers are never that complicated, but those same GMATers refuse to properly analyze their work.

As an example, consider Student X, who’s having trouble with Sentence Corrections. No matter how hard he studies, he still ends up getting over half of the SCs wrong on each CAT. What could POSSIBLY be the reason(s) for this? Stop reading this article and think about it. You should be able to name a couple of ‘causes’ right off the top of your head…

Seriously, you should consider this a critical thinking exercise (you’ll be asked to do considerably more difficult work in Business School, so embrace the challenge).

What did you come up with?

Here are some possibilities:

1)   The obvious answer - Student X doesn’t know the necessary grammar rules well enough. This is essentially the same issue as not knowing the proper math formulas for the Quant section. While these rules are not the only things that you need to know, they are the basis for all of the work that is required in SCs. If there are ‘holes’ in your knowledge, then it will be difficult to answer the SC prompts that you’ll face on Test Day.

2)   The realistic answer – Student X is ‘winging it’ through the Verbal section. If he didn’t actually study the proper materials, and just worked through 100s of SC prompts, then he never really trained correctly (even though he THINKS he did). There ARE patterns and Tactics that he could have learned to deal with SCs, but he never did learn them. Now he just narrows down the answers to 2 choices and picks the one that ‘sounds good.’ THAT is not a strategic approach (it’s what you would do when you had no other options) and it almost certainly will not lead to a high GMAT score.

3)   The subtle answer – Student X is too tired to properly answer the question. Since the Verbal section of the GMAT is the final 75 minutes of a 4-hour Exam, it’s likely that Student X is slouching in his chair, not taking notes and not engaging with the Test. While he might be fine when he’s well rested and taking quizzes, when taking his CATs, he didn’t properly train for the physical challenges of the Test. As a result, all he can do is read through all 5 answers (sometimes repeatedly) without looking for the common themes that GMAT question writers use, then selecting an answer becomes all about guessing (and thinking about “how would I say this when talking.” Mathematically-speaking, you would be lucky to get 1 out of every 2 SCs correct when working in this way. The likelihood is that you’ll get fewer correct than that.

Any (or all) of these answers should be easy enough to define – you don’t have to be a genius to do so – and once the cause of the problem is known, then steps can be taken to FIX the problem. By extension, you have to be willing to do more than just extra practice problems to improve. If ‘your way’ of studying for the GMAT isn’t leading to improvement, then you have to find a new way to study.

To that end, we’re here to help.

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,

Rich

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