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640 to 700 in 3 weeks! Target Test Prep was a game changer

This topic has 1 expert reply and 1 member reply
ck986 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
06 Aug 2016
1 messages

640 to 700 in 3 weeks! Target Test Prep was a game changer

Post Mon Aug 08, 2016 5:53 am
After studying for 10-15 hours a week for close to 4 months, I walked out of the test center with a disappointing 640 (Q42 V38). It was the lowest score I had gotten since I had taken my first diagnostic test 5 months before (550), but I can’t say I was too surprised. It was Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend and instead of feeling relieved and excited to be done with this test as I had hoped, I was panicked, dejected, and close to losing all hope that I would get the 700+ I needed to apply to my target schools for R1 this year. Sound familiar?….there’s hope!!

I began my GMAT journey at the beginning of 2016 and while I was prepared to put in significant time to get my desired score, I was optimistic I would be fine given my history with standardized tests and complex material. I work in financial services so have taken 4 licensing exams in stressful situations and also sat for both level 1 and level 2 of the CFA. My first mistake was not giving this test the respect it deserved…

I signed up for Manhattan Prep’s GMAT On Demand course and prep books. I found the interface easy to use and the videos helpful in reviewing the material I was completing in the books diligently according to the weekly schedule Manhattan Prep had provided. This was a familiar system for me as I had used it for all of my other tests-read/review material in books, watch videos online to reinforce concepts, and follow up with practice questions. I was acing all of the verbal questions in the books and videos and found the refreshers on some basic math concepts helpful. I took a couple of diagnostics along the way and went from a 550 to a 660. I plateau’d a bit on the 2nd and went to 670, but I didn’t let my nerves get the best of me. I wanted to trust the process. Fast forward to about 2 weeks before my scheduled exam and I scored a 650. I was devastated and terrified. I found the CATs frustrating and just could not crack the test questions despite doing well in my review books and the OG problems. I worked with a tutor for 1 session from Manhattan Prep out of panic. She tried to calm my nerves, but didn’t really help me connect where I was having trouble with Quant. She went through some last minute test taking and timing strategies. For $450 and 2 hours of precious study time, I wasn’t sold…but again, I was too far along to turn back and wanted to trust the process. I took one last diagnostic the weekend before the test and got a 680-ok, improvement! I was hoping I would peak on test day and all would be ok…

WRONG. I’m not a nervous test taker by any means and have always believed if I put in the work (at this point hundreds of hours and $1,000+…) I would prevail. I could not shake the nerves and doubted myself the entire time. The GMAT loves to prey on these types of test takers. I got through my essay and IR feeling pretty good. Quant started and immediately the first 5 questions just didn’t “feel right.” They didn’t look very familiar and it was clear I just was not understanding what concept the test was testing me on within my 2 min. time limit. It pretty much set me on a course for failure…when the screen flashed with the 640 I was shocked. I was torn up, frustrated, and inconsolable when I got home. I couldn’t believe after all of that hard work, the test felt almost foreign to me. I immediately went online to figure out how to fix this mess. I needed to retake the test in 3 weeks as I would be traveling for the summer and wanted to immediately start applications after.

ENTER TARGET TEST PREP. I started seeing reviews about TTP and wandered around the site. Despite sitting for the 3.5 hrs earlier, I took the diagnostic test on TTP and quickly realized these questions were far more similar to the real test I just took than the prep materials I had been using. Not surprisingly, I didn’t do very well on the diagnostic, but I finally felt a glimmer of hope after looking through the site. I wrote to TTP and asked about private lessons. Almost immediately, Scott (the founder!) IM’d me (Saturday night of MDW, btw…) and asked to set up a phone call, reassured me we would get my score, and gave me the piece of mind to actually get some sleep that night so I could wake up and get back to work.

We spoke on the phone and I immediately felt like he understood what I was struggling with and my frustrations with the test. I told him I had 3 weeks to bring my score up to a 700+, and he did not dissuade me whatsoever. He built back up my confidence again-reassured me that I actually knew this material and could take the test, I just needed help understanding what the test was asking and how it wanted me to get to the answer. I started going through the online modules. I loved the UI and how easy it was to identify where my weak spots were. I dedicated a lot of time to get through as many of the modules as possible in such a short time, and augmented that with 3 private tutoring sessions with Scott. These sessions were incredibly helpful. Scott was able to walk through some very high quality problems and importantly, understand how I thought about problems and where I was going wrong. The most valuable part of these sessions was that he helped me prepare to solve questions that way the test wants you to solve them. This was something I felt was lacking with Manhattan Prep. I was able to refresh on basics and was solid, but MGMAT didn’t really connect the concepts with how they are hidden in the questions you get asked. TTP taught me how to identify concepts in questions and get to an answer, using solid fundamentals (not neccesairly tricks), often times in 30 seconds or less.

6/17/16 and I walked into the same test center and felt more relaxed, though not completely at ease. I was prepared for that feeling, though. Scott really helped me understand that this test is so different than any one I have ever taken. Nobody really feels totally comfortable with it-it’s the reality of an adaptive test. I got to the Quant section and started recognizing concepts and question types immediately. The “language” felt far more familiar but, again, I wasn’t totally at ease. With that said, I still felt a significant improvement in my performance on Quant and that confidence carried over to Verbal. The test ended, I clicked through the screens and then it flashed up… a 700 (Q47, V39)!! I was so excited I practically jumped out of my seat.

I can’t recommend TTP enough. I believe MGAMT was useful in helping me review basics and fundamentals as well as Verbal. I would not spend the $1,000 on the courses, though. TTP was far more affordable ($99/ mth) and the personal attention and dedication I got from Scott was amazing. It really made all of the difference for my score. While my friends and family were supportive of me and tried their best to understand my frustrations, it was so great to speak to Scott and have him in my corner. He got to know me, my test taking mentality, and where my weak spots were in such a short period of time. I credit his program almost exclusively (except for my additional 60+ hours over those 3 weeks:) ) for the jump in my Quant score

So, if you are sitting at your computer dejected and stressed out over a disappointing diagnostic score, tough GMAT sit…whatever it is…try out TTP and talk to Scott. All is not lost, you can get to your score! If I could do it all over again, I would probably just get the MGMAT books to refresh concepts and trust the TTP process exclusively after that.

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diegocml Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts Default Avatar
15 Mar 2016
67 messages
7 times
Test Date:
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Post Mon Aug 08, 2016 7:20 am
Congratulation, ck986!

From Q42 to Q47, that'sweet!

Good luck with your applications.


1st GMAT attemp: 410 (Q18 V27)
2nd GMAT attemp: 490 (Q35 V23)

Post Wed Aug 10, 2016 4:39 am
Congrats on the score! If you need anything else from Scott or I, do not hesitate to reach out.

Jeffrey Miller Head of GMAT Instruction

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