Little Wins

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After consistently working so hard, it’s nice to celebrate the little wins. Unfortunately I took some “time off” and hadn’t been studying regularly for a couple months from June to August. Those are the only months in Michigan when it’s actually nice outside and I took an extended summer vacation. I have been trying to get back at it and study frequently over the past few weeks. I decided to take a practice test today although I knew I wasn’t ready for it. I wanted to gauge to see how of the material I had forgotten. To my surprise I did better than expected. I took an official GMAT practice test and scored a 620. Although this is far from my 680-700 goal, it still was a bit better than expected. Of course in the IR I scored pretty well in the 81st percentile. For some reason I always do well in the sections that don’t matter as much. In the Quan section I was in the 61st percentile and in Verbal I scored within the 67th percentile. Overall I was in the 69th percentile. They say to get into a top school you must be at least within the 60% percentile in both areas, but they hope you to be 80 and 80 within both.

What I was most happy about is that I reviewed the incorrect answers and didn’t see many that surprised me. There were times during the test when I knew I would not be able to get the answer. I was either unfamiliar with the type of problem or forgot relevant formulas needed to solve the problem. I didn’t waste time and made a quick strategic guess on these problems. For Quan, every problem I got wrong was a problem I guessed on. I got a few problems correct that I had guessed on as well. There’s a probability factor that helps when guessing. On the Verbal section, there were a few problems I was surprised I got wrong. I answered quite a few of the reading comprehension problems wrong. Generally, I perform a bit stronger in the verbal section than the quan section. I need to take a look at the Manhattan Navigator tool I use to track my strengths and weaknesses. I could be under-performing on these questions, or maybe it was a bit of a fluke.

I often notice I try to rush during the reading comprehension sections. It feels like I take so much time on these problems and I don’t want to get behind. But what I need to remember is that these sections will take longer. It’s suggested to spend about 3 minutes reading and taking notes for a long passage. For each of the questions, you should generally spend 60-90 seconds. This is why the recommended time schedule for the verbal section is a bit more undefined than the quan table. If you have most of the reading comp questions earlier on in the test, it might look like you’re behind on time. Or if you don’t have many reading comp questions early on and are exactly on time, you might end up being behind if you didn’t give yourself some extra wiggle room to use in those sections.

For reference, when I have been mentioning that I am “guessing on problems” I really mean I am taking a strategic guess. I might solve part of the problem and narrow down the answers. Or at times I use estimation to help determine the answer. If possible, it’s better to not take a random guess. If you are running out of time though, it is better to take a random guess rather than leaving an answer blank. I recommended reviewing some free materials about strategically guessing on the Manhattan GMAT website. Good luck!

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