Study and Strategy questions relating to the GMAT.
Fabrizio FitzgeraldF611
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CATs Analysis & Takeaways for right Game Plan - HELP!

by Fabrizio FitzgeraldF611 Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:19 pm

Hello!

I'd really appreciate some help in order to interpret my CATs scores, as test day is coming up and I thought I had made some steps forward in my Quant but it doesn't show at all in my results.

The breakdown of my Q CAT5 and CAT1.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/iKp7S2jFYKrLKeWT8

CAT5
Difficulty-----% Q per level-----# of Questions-----# Q Right-----Right %

300-500---------------------3%------------------------1-----------------1--------100%
500-600-------------------19%------------------------6-----------------4----------67%
600-700-------------------55%----------------------17-----------------7----------41%
700-800-------------------23%------------------------7-----------------2----------29%
-----------------------------------------------------------31---------------14----------45%
SCORE 38


CAT1
Difficulty-----% Q per level-----# of Questions-----# Q Right-----Right %

300-500-------------------16%------------------------6-----------------6--------100%
500-600-------------------41%----------------------15-----------------7----------47%
600-700-------------------38%----------------------14-----------------8----------57%
700-800---------------------5%------------------------2-----------------0-----------0%
-----------------------------------------------------------37----------------21---------57%
SCORE 41


Considering the distribution of questions per difficulty level, what I can't understand is how it is possible that my CAT1 score is 3 points higher than CAT5. My understanding of the scoring method of the GMAT, as a rule of thumb, is [maybe it's more accurate to say was] that it's somehow proportional to the percent of questions you get right "adjusted" per question level.

Looking at my 2 CATs, however, it doesn't seem that the score "rewards" the question level. It is true that overall I had a better performance on CAT1 in terms of the percentage of right questions (CAT1: 57% vs CAT5: 45%). However, it is also true that 57% of the questions in my CAT1 were 300-600 vs 22% in CAT5; whereas questions at 600-800 were 43% and 78% in my CAT1 and CAT5 respectively.

Since I thought that GMAT tests you 'at the best of your ability' and CAT5 felt a lot more difficult than CAT1, I assumed that the scoring method would have "rewarded" me. I really thought I had somewhat improved my Q score (or at the very least scored the same!). So, I was pretty baffled to see that the score was actually lower than CAT1.

I would appreciate your feedback and precious pieces of advise in order to better grasp the scoring situation, especially in consideration of the timing and guessing strategies I should implement during test day.

Thanks a lot in advance!

Best,

Fabri
StaceyKoprince
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Re: CATs Analysis & Takeaways for right Game Plan - HELP!

by StaceyKoprince Mon Jun 11, 2018 4:04 pm

Hi! The GMAT score is not based on percentage correct—not even percentage correct adjusted for difficulty level. The algorithm is so complex that I can't give you a one-line "the GMAT is based on X" explanation. (It's called an algorithm for a reason. :D)

The simplest way (I think) to think about it is this: the GMAT is a Where You End Is What You Get test.

So, for example, I could do an awesome job at first and lift my level to the 99th percentile—and even maintain that through the first 2/3 of the test. But then I could run out of time or mental energy (or both!) and tank the rest of the section and my percentile could drop to, let's say, 60th by the end. My score would be 60th percentile because where you end is what you get.

You, meanwhile, could do in there and "only" raise your score to, say, 85th percentile...but managing your time and mental energy better such that you can maintain that level all the way to the end of the section. In that case, you'll score 85th percentile, higher than me, even though I was able to answer a lot of much harder questions correctly.

So how you take this test has a huge impact on your scoring level. If you approach it like a school test ("must get everything right"), then you're a lot more likely to experience the first scenario, above, and earn a score that's lower than you would like.

I can't tell what's going on with your test because the data that you presented is not how the test is scored...but I can tell that it's likely you did have the "end of section drop" that I was discussing above because you did earn a harder mix of questions but your score was lower. It's likely that you are better at quant now, in a vacuum—but the way you are making decisions as you take the test is hurting your score. You literally need to get better at taking the test in the way that it is meant to be taken.

https://www.manhattanprep.com/gmat/blog ... lly-tests/

https://www.manhattanprep.com/gmat/blog ... -the-gmat/

It's also likely that you will need to continue to work on content and question strategy, of course. If you want to dig more deeply into your test analysis (I recommend doing so!), look here:
https://www.manhattanprep.com/gmat/blog ... ts-part-1/

(Note: I'm in the process of updating that article series right now. Once it's done and published, we'll add a link at the beginning of the above article to point people to the new version.)

If you'd like to share your analysis here after working through that how-to-analyze-your-CATs series, please feel free! I'd be happy to tell you what I think.
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Re: CATs Analysis & Takeaways for right Game Plan - HELP!

by Fabrizio FitzgeraldF611 Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:54 am

Dear Stacey,

Thank you very much for your response! I had already read your amazing posts, but apparently I still fail to implement those strategies.

Here's some data about my disastrous CATs

Spread Target Time vs Cumulative by Q#

------------#4-------#8-------#12-------#16-------#20-------#24-------#28-------#31-------#34-------#37

CAT1----0:02----3:32-----6:00-------5:20-------2:45------0:31-----+5:50----+8:30-----+5:48-----37 N/A

CAT5--+1:14---+2:58---+5:04-----+6:37-----+5:15----+4:17-----+0:59------0:03

Time Management

I do know that I have a severe problem with time management and guessing. I struggle with my "half measures" and their (supposed) effectiveness. By half measures I mean my tendency to spend at least 40”-1’ for an educated guess on difficult questions that I know it would take me way too long to solve. I never immediately guess, unless I’m 4’+ late and I see a very tough question on one of my weaknesses.

Reviewing the CATs, I can tell that sometimes those “half measures” work, sometimes they don’t. It’s hard to tell whether the ROI is worth it, or it would be better to aggregate those 40”-1’ by guessing immediately and concentrate the time on fewer questions.

Looking for example at 2 separate scenarios:

Case 1: I’m within the regular spread of 2-3max’ from target time and I see a tough question, which I’m not sure I’ll be able to solve. Is the correct strategy to give it 2 min, but nothing more, to try to solve it? Or would you recommend to guess at the 1’ mark should I still think by then that I’m unlikely to solve it without spending extra time?

Case 2 (even more important for me): I’m beyond the regular spread of 2-3max’ from target time and I see what I consider a moderate level question, which I know I can solve in 2' or 2.5’ max. Shall I go ahead and try, or guess and save time?



Guessing

Basically I can’t let go (or I don’t know when it’s best to). But from now on I'll do my best to implement the strategy that you perfectly referred to as "The But Feeling." On CAT1, I guessed on 8 questions (questions <1’) while on CAT5 only 3. I found a significant improvement by guessing on many more questions in IR, for instance (though psychologically I think it's easier on IR, since it's not adaptive). So basically, I was rewarded for guessing more and I’m aware I need to improve my guessing strategy.

In more practical terms, for instance, here's the deep dip I took on CAT5 Q from which I never recovered:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/3eKvZAGLm48MakhM6

For instance, would you recommend to immediately guess even on 2 consecutive questions if necessary (for instance, on 12 & 13)?

Shall I just automatically guess on the next question as soon as I find out that I’m running 3’+ late independently of question type/level?

Combining the data of the table in my previous post with the Target Time vs Cumulative Time here, what I find difficult to understand is that although in both CATs I had a severe time management problem–with CAT1 being even worse than CAT5–and despite the fact that on CAT1 I got questions, on average, that were far easier than in CAT5, I still scored better on CAT1!


Verbal

On Verbal, I perform relatively better (mid-60%) but I know it’s definitely not enough. However, on Verbal I see that I’m able to get a good percentage of 600-800 questions right, and I believe my score drops mainly due to poor time management and guessing (whereas I have more content-related issues with Q).

I tend to run late for 2/3 of the questions and rush during the last 1/3, which turns into the classic final drop. I always experience either a long string of 5 wrong answers half way through the test, or two “shorter” strings of 3-4 wrong answers half way through and at the end of my Verbal.

I find it a lot trickier to guess on Verbal (here too, I reckon I basically don’t guess until very late, which I shouldn’t do). My SC is pretty good, while I’m weaker on CR or RC with CR-type questions and specific detail on scientific passages.

I tend to concentrate my guesses on CR because I feel that once you’ve already invested on reading the passage of RC, you wouldn’t really save a lot of time guessing on an RC question…but I guess I should reconsider my position…

How can I improve my guessing strategy on Verbal? Can I use the same rule of thumb of Q (that is to guess right away when I’m running 3’+ late)?

Moving On

I’m looking for a 650 score, which didn't seem an impossible task from where I started (570). However, I've been stuck with that score (now 580 ever since I started studying with the Interact Course. I am aware that I should also look at strengthening content, especially on the more recurrent questions in Q such as FDPs and Word Problems with algebraic translations. I will target my review in those areas on 500-700 questions, as I understand getting those questions wrong during my CAT5 is what killed my score.

But it's also true that I'm running out of time. Originally, I planned to give the GMAT a first try at the end of March. Then after my CAT2, it became April…then May….I'm really losing confidence here..

I really need to give it a try by the end of June, or on the first week of July.

What should be my plan of action moving on? Since I feel I won't be able to fix my timing and guessing issues unless I practice more, would you recommend taking 1-2 CATs per week (with full review) to adjust my time management and guessing strategies?

Taking into account a possible yet only marginal improvement on content, how likely am I to get a 650 score by focusing mainly on my game plan (time management and guessing strategy)?

Thank you very much for your help, Stacey! I really appreciate it your precious suggestions!

Best,
Fabri
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Re: CATs Analysis & Takeaways for right Game Plan - HELP!

by StaceyKoprince Thu Jun 14, 2018 9:37 pm

my tendency to spend at least 40”-1’ for an educated guess on difficult questions that I know it would take me way too long to solve. I never immediately guess, unless I’m 4’+ late and I see a very tough question on one of my weaknesses.


Let’s translate this into business terms. You have $50 million to invest in start-ups. Your plan is to invest roughly $5m per month for the next 10 months. You’re 2 months in and you’ve invested only $8m so far, so you’re a little “ahead” / have some “extra” money.

You’re presented with an opportunity to invest in a company that you think isn’t a good risk. You’re probably going to lose your money. But…hey, you’ve got some extra money, so why not give them $1m since you have it?

See where I’m going with this? :) You’re not actually making a business decision on this test when you invest just because you “have the money” or when you refuse to bail unless / until you’re already in a deep hole (4+ minutes behind). That's showing that you’re still in the “It’s school / I’m supposed to get everything right” mindset—so that's the #1 thing we need to change.

You said that you've read those articles before. You presumably "know" this stuff on an intellectual level. But your actions are still "old school." So let's take this to a more concrete level: What specific steps do you want to be able to take when faced with various scenarios, such that you are making exec decisions, not school decisions?

Level 1 is the Immediate Bail. These are questions that I already know from past / my history that I'm really unlikely to get right or I'm really likely to spend way too long on or I'm really likely to get frustrated or blow a lot of mental energy...or any combination of the above.

First, when I see something like this (will define how to know what "something like this" is in a minute), my first and only goal is to get out as fast as possible. No educated guessing. My favorite letter is "B" (what's yours?) and my sole goal is to be able to recognize these and guess B within 30 seconds so that I'm saving as much time and mental energy as possible.

"Something like this" = two broad categories:
(1) Specific content areas or question types that I know I hate and that aren't super-common on the exam. Eg, I hate combinatorics and 3-D geometry. Those are also not commonly tested, so I can bail on every one that I see. If I hated all of geometry in general...I probably couldn't bail on all of them. I'd need to learn how to do some and narrow the bucket of "what I hate in geometry" a bit.

(2) Problems that are too annoying. I define "too annoying" as 3-4+ annoying characteristics in a single problem. The problem pops up on the screen and I immediately see that it's a roman numeral (which always takes longer, so that's objectively annoying for the whole world). I start to read and see it's got 4 variables. I personally find that annoying. And it's a rate problem. Ugh. I like rate problems with real numbers, but not with variables, and certainly not 4 variables!

At this point, I'd be out. It's got 3 big annoyances. I'm not interested. On my last official test (when the Q section still had 37 questions), I did the above on 8 problems. Eight. Not a typo. I did not make an educated guess on any of those; I guessed B on every single one. My last two problems in the section were combinatorics and cylinders. I had like 10 minutes left; I bailed on both anyway. If they had been the first two questions in the section, I still would have bailed on both because I hate them. I still scored 48 (out of 51) on the quant section.

I'm focusing above on quant because that's my weaker section. Because that's (by far) my stronger section *and* because verbal is by nature about process of elimination, I'm more likely to give a verbal problem at least a minute. I will still sometimes bail at the 1m mark, but that's usually because I can tell that I don't understand something in the sentence or argument or question stem or whatever.

Let's also talk about Level 2. So the Level 1 Immediate Bail is good for about 4-5 questions in the section (now that they've shortened the Q and V). Every question on which you don't immediately bail gets a 1 minute "trial period"—and then you're going to make another decision about whether to invest more.

1 minute is the halfway mark for most of the question types. On those types, by the halfway mark, you want to understand what's going on and have a good plan for how you're going to try to get to the answer. If you don't have those pieces, don't keep going down this path. Instead, ask yourself whether there's a decent way to make an educated guess on this one. If so, you can still choose to invest the second minute, but you're going to invest that minute on trying to find wrong answers vs. trying to find the right one. And if you don't already see a decent way to make an educated guess, then pick your favorite letter right now and save that whole 30-60 seconds that you still have left for some other problem.

Think about everything I've said so far. Now tell me what you think you should do in the various scenarios you listed. (I've finished typing and I'm coming back up here to add: This is probably the most important thing of this entire post. You need to figure this out / articulate this yourself so that you really internalize it.)

what I find difficult to understand is that although in both CATs I had a severe time management problem–with CAT1 being even worse than CAT5–and despite the fact that on CAT1 I got questions, on average, that were far easier than in CAT5, I still scored better on CAT1!


Where did you end in each section? On the GMAT, where you end is what you get.

I'll add a couple of other things. It's not uncommon to have a string of 3-5 wrong somewhere in the section. If it's going to happen anywhere, the one place you don't want it to happen is at the end...because then you have no time to recover / pull your score back up. And where you end is what you get. If it happens early or in the middle, you can still work your way back up.

I find it a lot trickier to guess on Verbal


How much time have you spent studying how to guess in verbal? If you're like most people, probably not much. :)

When you're reviewing, review everything. Identify ALL of the questions on which you narrowed to two and guessed, even when you guessed right. And answer these questions:

(1) Why was the wrong answer so tempting? why did it look like it might be right? (be as explicit as possible; also, now you know this is not a good reason to pick an answer)
(2) Why was it actually wrong? what specific words indicate that it is wrong and how did I overlook those clues the first time?
(3) Why did the right answer seem wrong? what made it so tempting to cross off the right answer? why were those things actually okay; what was my error in thinking that they were wrong? (also, now you know that this is not a good reason to eliminate an answer)
(4) Why was it actually right?

Most people don't analyze #1 and #3—but falling into a trap on verbal is literally the same thing every time: you think a wrong answer is better than the right answer. And there are two mistakes there: liking the wrong answer and doubting the right answer. So if you can learn how they set those traps for you, you're less likely to fall into them in the first place AND you're able to use that knowledge to make a better educated guess when you don't know which one's right. Win-win!

All other things being equal, I do think CR and certain RC questions are the best place to guess. SC is already a shorter type, so you don't have as much time to save. (But if SC is your weakest area, then try to ID some superficial clues that can push you towards a fast guess / immediate bail, such as a fully-underlined sentence.)

Oh and one more thing about guessing. Random guess = I dunno, pick my favorite letter (the same letter every time), move on. Educated guessing isn't really a guess in the same sense. Educated guessing really means "I narrowed down the answers in a legit way and improved my odds of getting this right." Since you only need about 60% correct, if you get yourself down to 2 or 3 answers, your odds are really good. If I can narrow to 2, I don't even consider that educated guessing at all. I consider that I've legitimately answered that question, even if I'm not sure between the final two. This isn't a school test. I don't need to get them all right.

would you recommend taking 1-2 CATs per week (with full review) to adjust my time management and guessing strategies?


First, I never recommend more than 1 CAT per week for anyone in any circumstance ever. You don't get better while taking a CAT. It's too long and there's too much going on. You can hone any strategies, including time management and guessing, by doing smaller sets of questions. Iterate: Do a set, study what that set tells you that you need to study, then do another set the next day. You can't take a practice test every day—your brain would get fried and you'd never remember any of it.

This article series talks about making various kinds of problem sets; read through and use what's relevant for your current stage.
http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/2017/01/ ... est-part-1

You can also use the online learning platform for the Official Guide book to do completely random sets of OG problems.

For quant, I highly recommend the official product GMAT Focus (get it at www.mba.com). This is a quant-only problem set of 24 questions—but it's adaptive just like the real test, so it will push you in the same way that the real test does. (Sets from OG are random but not adaptive, so it's not quite the same.) For a non-adaptive set, I would keep it to about 12 problems per set max on quant.

I know your last question is probably the one you most want an answer to and I can't answer it. I can't predict that. I do know that your score will go up if you can fix these timing / mindset issues. That's very clear from the data. It may be enough to get you all the way to 650. You may have to do a bit more work on content. But since you know you need to do that first, start there and let's see where that gets you. Then you can see what else you may need to do.

If you find that you're just not getting your head wrapped around what you need to do to get into the exec mindset, then you may benefit from a couple of targeted sessions with a tutor. That's very expensive (not nearly as expensive as b-school, but still), so I don't like to suggest it unless someone asks me about it themselves first. But I hear your frustration and I'm worried that you'll just continue to feel like you're banging your head against the wall. I think you can do this but it's possible that you'll need a boost to help you get there. So just file that thought away—if you feel like you're ready to give up or completely lost motivation, you do have that option.

Okay, I gave you a lot so I'll stop there. Tell me what you think about all of the above.
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Re: CATs Analysis & Takeaways for right Game Plan - HELP!

by Fabrizio FitzgeraldF611 Fri Jun 22, 2018 9:59 am

Dear Stacey,

Thank you sooo much for your extra precious pieces of advise! Sorry for replying so late, but I wanted to see first whether I could finally implement the strategy you helped me figuring out...and I'm happy to say that finally I think I see the light at the end of the tunnel!

I improved my overall score by 30 points from my last CAT with a Q44–I would sign today to get it on test day! Looking at the report, I was quite shocked to notice a string of 9 (NINE!) incorrect answers but still ending up improving my Q score by 6 points! Before the simulation, I re-read your awesome reply and kept repeating myself "just solve the exercises you like and you feel you can do. Guess immediately on all bucket 3 topics regardless of the order they come up. Do not steer away from this strategy for any reason in the world!" (I know my thought process may sound a bit too extreme the way I put it but, considering where I was coming from, I guess I really needed a shock therapy! :lol:). I also understand better now what you meant when you said the scoring method is too complicated to sum up in one line!

I scored 610, so I'm still far from my objective of 650. However, it's also true that my performance on V was very weak (30), so I think that if I work on my time management on V as well, I could get where I want.

I'm going to do a thorough review of my V, bearing in mind your kind suggestions. What I've noticed from my previous reviews is that I consistently drop on the last 1/3 of the V part. First, I believe part of it is due to mental stamina...I really feel exhausted towards the end of V–especially when I get a scientific RC for the last 4 questions :roll: :lol: Second, since I can manage to be around 75th+ percentile for approximately 2/3 of V, I tend to play what you correctly referred to as the "old school mindset" of trying to get everything right.

In contrast to Q, where I think it's easier to come up with the bucket 3 list of topics, it's clearly more difficult to identify similar questions on V. I just know that I'm way stronger on SC than RC and CR. Moreover, I noticed that it takes me a while to read long scientific RC pieces and I also end up having a very low hit rate on those. Going back to my "half measures" and their ineffectiveness, I'm wondering whether it could be a good idea to skip it altogether next time around (unless it pops up at the very end of course)...I would preserve some much needed mental stamina and save up 7-8' minutes to invest on my strengths.

I really wanted to thank you for the time you spent replying to my long posts. I truly appreciate it! Your help is a real motivational boost!
Should you have any other piece of advise with regards to V, it is of course very very welcome. Otherwise, I'll probably bother you again after focusing on practicing V ;)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Best,
Fabri
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Re: CATs Analysis & Takeaways for right Game Plan - HELP!

by StaceyKoprince Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:29 pm

Excellent! So glad that this is starting to pay off!

Okay, so V stamina. If you do Q first, then bailing on the too-hard stuff will help to give you more stamina for V.

Next, RC and CR are weaker for you. What's the one CR question type you like the least? And what's the second-most-annoying CR question type for you?

For RC, the one drawback to bailing entirely is that that's 3-4 questions in a row. That might be okay but it might also drop you a decent amount.

For RC science, are you able to get main idea / big picture questions right sometimes? If so, maybe the goal on too-science-y passages is *just* to understand the overall picture. Don't read / get into the detail and guess right away on any annoying detail questions. Try to answer big picture ones (or maybe just narrow down the answers before you guess). If you can get even the overall "tone" (the author things this theory is more likely to hold true than that other theory), you can often get rid of 2 or 3 answers on the big picture questions.

For Verbal I've already given you the advice I'd give everyone overall / without knowing more detailed analysis. So just let me know what you find after you've done that analysis and we'll talk. :)

Happy studying!
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Re: CATs Analysis & Takeaways for right Game Plan - HELP!

by Fabrizio FitzgeraldF611 Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:16 pm

Hi Stacey!

Thanks again for your awesome support! So, I've dedicated more time to V these last couple of days, and this is what I think can point out:

CR

Weaker Q types: Weaken, Draw Conclusion
Fair: Strengthen, Find Assumption
Good: Describe Role, Evaluate, Explain Discrepancy

Most common error type: Extreme language (by far!)

Steps forward: I think I can improve significantly on Find Assumption (I wasn't doing the negation test at the beginning but ever since I started doing it systematically, I've been recording much higher hit rates) and Draw Conclusion (I always pick an answer choice with extreme language).

Need to prioritize: Weaken, Strengthen. I find them a lot trickier (I don't know whether it's me or it's more of a general trend)

RC

Weaker Q types: Inference, Specific Detail. Moreover, I'd say that Specific Detail with Roman Numerals and Inference Except go straight into bucket 3–unless I find a passage on something I'm really familiar with / good at. It just takes me too long and too much effort to work from wrong to right on these ones.

Fair / Good: Main Idea, Specific Purpose, Passage Structure

Common mistakes - RC Inference: I tend not to go back to the passage or I check only a detail I find in the answer choice that I can't recall from the passage. I guess, however, that since these questions tie different points from several paragraphs together, it's a good idea to skim through the whole passage when I'm down to 2/3 answer choices (would you agree?). Similarly, on RC Specific Detail, I think I need to read a couple of sentences above and below the specific sentence where the detail is located.

Steps forward: not much on RC besides what I just mentioned above :|

- I'm aware it is very difficult to say, but considering your expertise, do you see anything "bizarre" in the pattern of my weaker areas?
- What kind of mental exercise do you think I can try to implement while I'm solving?
- With regards to time management and guessing, I usually lag 4-5' behind around Q#20 on V. I really hope to be able to increase my score by managing time better. Would you suggest to keep 3' limit from target time on V as well? As far as guessing is concerned, I still have difficulties to let go on V (hopefully not for much longer!). As a benchmark, how many questions do you think it's "safe" to guess on? I'm asking you because you saved me with your response on guessing on Q!

Sorry for bothering you with many questions! Test day is coming up in less than 2 weeks, and I hope that with your help I can improve a bit more before the big day!

Thank you very much for your time; your help is much appreciated!

Fabri
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Re: CATs Analysis & Takeaways for right Game Plan - HELP!

by Fabrizio FitzgeraldF611 Sun Jul 01, 2018 1:45 pm

Hello again Stacey!

Just wanted to add a bit more details for the analysis since I've done one of the 2 free official practice tests that come with the booking of the exam. Unfortunately, I went back to my old score (570). As far as Q is concerned, I should have guessed on a couple more and I also had two DS problems whose statements did not appear on the screen (must have been a technical problem with the browser!) that I had to guess on (B both times and wrong both times). So, I suppose these are the main factors contributing to my lower score.

Having said that, I have to admit that I am a bit confused about the score difference between the last 2 CATs. In the second last CAT, I scored 44 with a string of 9 wrong answers and 15/31 correct overall–significantly below the "regular" 60% average. On my last CAT, I scored 39 and I got 19/31 correct with only one string of 4 wrong, from Q22-25. I've also got 5 out of the last 6 right, so the lower score cannot even be explained by a significant final drop. I am aware that the number of correct answers does not by itself explain the score–and on the GMAT Official I couldn't find info about the level of difficulty of each question. All in all, however, the difference between the two last CATs doesn't seem that substantial to me to result in a 5-point difference–actually a bit the opposite! :shock:

How can I interpret the remarkable score difference?

More importantly, I really need to sharpen up my game plan on V. Based on the details I shared with you on my previous post, I decided to concentrate my guessing on CR and RC. I scored 30 again (I've never been able to score higher than 32) with 22/36 right. I had only one string of 4 wrong answers (Q29-32); one string of 6 right (Q23-28); and one string of 4 right (Q33-36). The breakdown by question type is the following:

--- SC: 78% correct (11/14)
--- RC: 69% correct (9/13)
--- CR: 22% correct (2/9)

I guessed on 3 total, all CR (and same letter), and I got none of them right. Considering my strengths on V, I believe it was the right strategy to implement. What I'm wondering is, how much difference could 2 or 3 more right answers make on the overall score?

Assuming that my performance on SC and RC stayed the same (which I guess is not too bad), how many points more could I expect on the final V score if I got 2 or 3 more CR right?

I'm not trying to game the test. It's just that I feel I will never be able to implement a sound game plan, if I can't fully grasp how the scoring works! :(

Thank you as always, Stacey!
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Re: CATs Analysis & Takeaways for right Game Plan - HELP!

by StaceyKoprince Mon Jul 02, 2018 1:10 pm

In order from your first post first. :)

CR: Weaken and Strengthen differ from Find the Assumption and Inference (aka Draw a Conclusion) in an important way. W&S purposely bring up new information in the correct answer (in all the answers, really). Basically, W&S say, hey, here are some new pieces of information. Assume they're all true. Now, given this new info, which one (strengthens or weakens)?

So some kind of disconnect around that could be one reason you're struggling more with W&S. Here's another. The "threshold" for W&S is really just "make this argument a little less (or a little more) likely to be valid." Along the lines of, you're claiming X, but did you know that Y was true? If you'd known that before, you'd have been somewhat less likely to claim X in the first place. Note that this doesn't 100% mean that you wouldn't have claimed X...only that you would have doubted more / been somewhat less likely to claim X. (Or the reverse, obviously, for a strengthen.)

RC: Agreed on Roman Numeral and Except. Not worth the time! Note that Inference requires the same underlying logic for RC, CR, and IR. So what you learn about how to get better at one can apply to the others.

In general, for any RC specific question (detail or inference), yes, we recommend reading a sentence before and/or a sentence after the "relevant" text (and sometimes more than one sentence—basically, follow the evidence). Unless it's an Except question, you do not typically need to read the *whole* thing again (that can happen but it's not usual). You do, though, typically need to look more broadly than at a single sentence.

No, there's nothing bizarre about your pattern. Given that you're struggling with Inference in both CR and RC, for that type, think of yourself as a lawyer in a court of law. You can't assume, you can't go beyond the evidence given, you have to be really precise and only claim things that you can prove given the available evidence. If you go too far, the judge or the opposing lawyer will call you on it.

You can (and should!) guess on V, too—generally speaking, someone should guess on maybe 4-6 in their weaker area and 3-5 in their stronger area. You've already identified some guessing areas, but you'll need more. You may not see any Roman Numeral or Except questions at all on the test. You might decide to pick one particular type of CR question (eg, Weaken or Infer/DC). Or you might decide based on the content of specific problems: If I realize as I'm reading an argument that I can't really follow it, I'll guess. If I know that I didn't really understand paragraph 3 of this passage, and I get a question about it, I'll guess.

Okay now to your 2nd post.

Re: the issue with not seeing the DS statements for two problems. Can you see the statements now when you review the test? If not, take a screen shot of each. Send the email to gmac (you can find contact info on the mba.com website) along with your browser and operating system details. (And this goes without saying but: in future, make sure that whatever browser you use is fully updated.)

Re: the score...the process by which the score is calculated is called an algorithm for a reason. :) There really isn't a way to fully understand it by looking at the data points we have available.

The big thing is that you know you should have guessed on a few more Q problems. Which ones? What should have been your trigger for each one (to make the decision)? Figure that out so that you make better decisions next time.

What I'm wondering is, how much difference could 2 or 3 more right answers make on the overall score?


There isn't an answer to this question. If you take a question that you got wrong and instead say, hey, I got this right...then the rest of your test changes. You literally wouldn't see the questions that you did see—you'd see different ones instead. So we can't say "keep the entire test the same but just change these 2-3 problems from wrong to right."

In general, if you answer some harder questions right, then your mix of questions changes—you see a harder mix. But since it's a harder mix, you don't end up getting more right. Rather, you earn a harder mix, which basically means you lifted your score.

So you bailed on 3 CRs, which means you tried to answer 6 CRs. You got 2 of those 6 right. You got higher percentages of SC and RC right. Given that all 3 question types are mixed together on the test, very *roughly* speaking, you're going to see similar levels of difficulty across all 3. (Roughly.) So the difference between 33% correct on CR and 69%/78% on RC/SC respectively is significant enough to say that CR is a weakness relative to the other two. That's what's holding you back from lifting your mix of questions.

So, some questions:
– Go back and look at the three CRs on which you bailed. Try them now. Was it the right call to bail on those three? Or is it the case that you're now thinking, hmm, I could have done one or two of these? If so, you should have bailed on a couple of the other ones that you did do and got wrong anyway. So how are you going to make a better decision next time regarding which ones should be bails? (And, if this happened and you can figure out how to make better decisions next time, you just lifted your score—because you just got yourself into a harder mix of questions, though you might still get the same # wrong overall.)

– Review the CRs that you did try. Did you have any careless mistakes? If so, what mistake did you make and why? How can you avoid that type of mistake in future?

– For the ones you did try, look up (only) the correct answer. Now that you know which one is right, can you figure out why that one is right and why the one you chose is wrong? Why did the wrong answer look good to you; what was the trap? Why did the right answer look bad to you; what was the trap?

Do the above for SC and RC as well—you may be able to pick up points there, too!
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Re: CATs Analysis & Takeaways for right Game Plan - HELP!

by Fabrizio FitzgeraldF611 Fri Jul 06, 2018 6:49 am

Thank you so much for your help, Stacey!

I'll keep you posted about my test score, but I think I'll have to try it again. If so, I'd like to do some private tutoring hours to boost my prep as fast as possible. Would it be possible to arrange it with you? Sorry, I'm aware this is probably not the most suitable platform to ask such question, but couldn't find any alternative way to reach out to you! :)
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Re: CATs Analysis & Takeaways for right Game Plan - HELP!

by StaceyKoprince Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:20 pm

Hello! Thanks for the vote of confidence. I am unfortunately not taking on any tutoring students for at least the rest of this year (I'm about to go into deep writing mode on our books)—but we have lots of great tutors. (Truth be told...I don't think I'm one of our company's best tutors anyway... :D )

If you think you'd like to do this, go here:
https://www.manhattanprep.com/gmat/prep/tutoring/

And fill out the private tutoring form linked on that page. (You are NOT committing to private tutoring by filling out that form. You are just indicating your interest.) Then, someone from our student services team will contact you. If you're ready to start, then our team will find a good match for you based on the details (strengths and weaknesses, plus your schedule) that you indicated in the form. If you're not ready to start, you can wait until (if) you are—and if there is a waitlist, your name will go on it. Aug through Nov is the busiest time of the year, so if you think this is a possibility for you, it's good to get your name on the list (if there is one now).

If you do this, also let me know. I will forward the link to our conversation here to our team, so that the teacher you work with can read the history / know everything that we already discussed—and I will also be available to that teacher to discuss anything.
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Re: CATs Analysis & Takeaways for right Game Plan - HELP!

by Fabrizio FitzgeraldF611 Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:39 am

Hello Stacey,

So...I’ve taken the GMAT on Tuesday and (unsurprisingly) didn’t go too well–I scored 600 (Q44, V29). But it’s ok, I take it as a first try-out and investigation of the test center ;) Don’t know exactly why but, somehow, I feel a bit relieved. Maybe it’s because I thought it was actually going even worse than it did (especially the Q part!). Can’t believe how low my Verbal was, as I normally score around 32. I think it was because I had the impression that Quant didn’t go well and half way through Verbal I kind of let go (and messed up completely on time management). Well, in any case, I feel like I can do it (and I have got to!).

Anyways, sorry to digress; I just sent the form as you suggested. I had been in touch with Elaine a few weeks ago, so I asked her whether she would be available, but she's fully booked unfortunately. She kindly recommended a few other instructors (including you!) and I specified their names into the form too.

Thank you so much for your help, time, and availability. I truly appreciate it! I'll shoot you a line once I get a better score ;)

Have a great day!
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Re: CATs Analysis & Takeaways for right Game Plan - HELP!

by StaceyKoprince Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:43 pm

Ah! Elaine is awesome—too bad she is already booked. Your name is Fabrizio Fitzgerald? (I mean...I assume you chose that username here because it's...your name, but just to make sure that when I email our tutoring coordinator, he's not like, who's that? :D I'll send him the link to our conversation here so that whoever you're paired with can read our discussion.)

Okay, so what are your takeaways from the test experience?

One thing that jumps out at me: you scored Q44, but you thought you didn't do well. Do you remember saying this a few posts back about your practice test:

my last CAT with a Q44–I would sign today to get it on test day!


So...you got it on test day!! Woohoo!

And yet, you thought it wasn't going well? What's that all about? That's pretty common actually, because of the way the test works. Basically, the better you do, the more you're bumping up against your limit, so the more you feel like the test is kind of kicking your butt. But that's actually a sign that you're doing well—because you literally keep earning questions that you can't do. ;)

So register that for next time—if that happens again, that probably means it's going well, not the reverse. (I'll also say: standardized tests are so weird that it's really hard to tell in the moment how you're doing. So, in general, assume that you just can't tell, which means things might be going great, so don't get demoralized. Just keep plugging away!)
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Re: CATs Analysis & Takeaways for right Game Plan - HELP!

by Fabrizio FitzgeraldF611 Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:38 am

Hi Stacey!

hahaha yes, I do remember saying that! I was positively surprised by my Q performance.. I just thought it wasn't going well not because the questions were hard, but the opposite. Even the very last ones felt "too easy" which made me assume that I must have gotten some really easy ones wrong...But in any case, I agree with you, no more assumptions about how I'm doing during the test.

I'm actually going to try to invert the order of Q and V, since I really can't tell how V goes until I see the score, and also to check whether it makes the test easier to handle in terms of mental stamina.

Anyways, yes, my name is Fabrizio Fitzgerald Farina... didn't make it up! hahah

Thanks for your help!

Best,

Fabri
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Re: CATs Analysis & Takeaways for right Game Plan - HELP!

by StaceyKoprince Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:25 pm

Sounds good. I just emailed the link of our thread to our student services team so that they can forward it to whomever you're paired with.

Let me know how things go!
Stacey Koprince
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ManhattanGMAT