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640 to 720 in 7 Weeks

This topic has 1 expert reply and 0 member replies
lambert000 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
09 Aug 2017
1 messages

640 to 720 in 7 Weeks

Post Wed Aug 09, 2017 1:10 pm
First of all I should say that I’ve never been a super serious student/studier. I was a student athlete in college, but mostly athlete. I took academics serious enough to graduate and get a decent job, but I’m definitely not your “poster child” for academic prowess.

That said, I knew I needed a 700+ to have any shot of getting into a top 5 MBA program. Before I opened a single GMAT book, I took a GMATPrep exam (to get a true baseline score) and got a 600 (V34, Q38). Not terrible, but definitely not close to what I would need to get into my goal school. I’m a native English speaker, so my baseline verbal score wasn’t terrible, but my quant skills definitely needed some help. I’m also not rolling in cash, so wanted to as efficiently study for the GMAT as possible (no $1,000+ classes for me, unfortunately).

5 Month Study Plan
My goal was to have a final GMAT score by early June so that I could spend the summer working on MBA applications. I started studying on my own in Jan, using the OGMAT book. The book provides great, high-quality questions and decent explanations. I was fairly disciplined, doing practice problems for ~8 hours/week (mostly on weekends with my roommate). After about 6 weeks of self-prep, though, I realized I didn’t really have a plan or strategy for my studying. I worked on the skills I felt I needed to work on, but with the exception of getting questions right/wrong, was really missing having some sort of feedback on my progress.

In mid-Feb, I signed up with Magoosh since they had decent reviews and, at the time, were running a sale so I could get everything I needed for $99 (or so). Here’s my assessment of their GMAT course:

Magoosh - the GOOD
--Tons of content - you’ll never run out of videos to watch or practice questions to do. So if you like staying busy and having lots of information to go through, you’ll love it.
--Some cool features, like the ability to create your own quizzes (based on what you want to practice) and data on how you compare with other students’ performance on every single question.
--Can’t beat the price!

Magoosh - the NOT SO GOOD
--I was really hoping for more of a plan - some sort of guidance to tell me where to focus my energy. I didn’t get this witMagoosh.
--I found their lessons/videos to be quite verbose. I would have preferred to have them more concisely written/narrated to feel like my time was more efficiently being used.

After about 2 months with Magoosh (now we’re up to mid-April), I decided to take another GMATPrep exam. This time I scored a 640 (V35, Q42) and started freaking out a bit. Based on my original goal, I only had six weeks left to get my sh*t together and score a 700+. Even though 40 points is a decent score increase in 3.5 months, I needed more.

After doing a bit more research of other course options, I decided to try PrepScholar GMAT, a newer course, since they claim to offer exactly what I was looking for - a personalized study plan based on my GMAT strengths and weaknesses. The online course is $399 which is obviously more than Magoosh but, in my mind, worth it if the course works. Here’s my assessment of their course:

PrepScholar GMAT - the GOOD
--My personalized study plan was spot on - the algorithm identified weaknesses I didn’t even know I had (apparently I suck at “Reading Comprehension: Application” questions… something I never would have recognized on my own).
--Tools like progress trackers and study schedulers kept me motivated and almost made studying fun (note: ALMOST).
--The questions seemed to be much more realistic to “actual” GMAT questions than Magoosh.

PrepScholar GMAT - the NOT SO GOOD
--They’re a newer course the product didn’t have as many ‘bells and whistles’ - like the question-specific student data or ability to create your own quizzes - that Magoosh had.
--Once I “mastered” a skill I wasn’t able to do any more practice questions for this skill. Of course, I could always pull more from my OGMAT book or BTG forums, but it would have been nice to be able to continue drilling 700+ level questions.

After 3 weeks with PrepScholar GMAT, I took a third GMATPrep test and scored a 690 (V37, Q47). Still a bit disappointing (I was really hoping for a score starting with a “7”), but getting much closer to my goal. At this point I split my time between PrepScholar GMAT and drilling practice problems from the OGMAT book, using Prepscholar almost as a compass telling me on which skills to focus and the OGMAT book to drill questions. I scheduled my GMAT for June 1st and took one final GMATPrep test in late May - a 710 (V38, Q49)!

In the end, I scored a 720 (V39, Q49) on the actual test and was THRILLED. Could I do better and keep improving? Probably. Do I want to? No way. I’m done and never looking back. Onto applications, interviews, and, hopefully, MBA admission!

Again, here was my score progression:
-Jan 5, GMATPrep: 600 (V34, Q38)
-April 13, GMATPrep: 640 (V35, Q42)
-May 22, GMATPrep: 690 (V37, Q47)
-May 29, GMATPrep: 710 (V38, Q49)
-June 1, GMAT: 720 (V39, Q49)

And finally here are my top 5 key takeaways from my GMAT experience:
1. If your score isn’t improving with what you’re doing, find a new strategy. For me, self-guided prep (both on my own and with Magoosh) didn’t work very well. I needed more personalized guidance and feedback. Every student is different and just because one strategy worked for your friend/brother/roommate's cousin doesn’t mean it’ll work for you.
2. Understand your mistakes. I know so many people who just do “50 problems a day” or whatever and consider that effective studying. I’d so much rather do 10 questions a day - and spend 15-20 minutes really understanding each question - than flying through them just to say I did them. Quality > Quantity!
3. Don’t assume you know your strengths and weaknesses. I was shocked when PrepScholar GMAT diagnosed one of my weakest areas to be Reading Comprehension, especially since I always considered myself a somewhat avid reader. Once I was able to really hone in on that skill (and other weak spots) my score improved!
4. Separate GMAT prep and MBA application prep. Both will add enough stress onto your life - don’t save GMAT prep for the last minute. Get it done/behind you so that you can focus on writing the best application essays possible.
5. Don’t spend a ton of time thinking/stressing about the AWA. Especially if you’re a native English speaker, find a few (free) templates/examples online, and go with it.

Need free GMAT or MBA advice from an expert? Register for Beat The GMAT now and post your question in these forums!


Post Tue Aug 22, 2017 7:24 am
Congrats, lambert000! I'm glad that you found PrepScholar GMAT helpful in reaching your target score!

I couldn't agree more that Quality > Quantity when it comes to GMAT prep: it's more important to study smart than to study a lot. There's so much material out there that it's easy to spend a ton of time on areas that 1) aren't super important on the test and 2) aren't important to you. It's also easy to blaze through a bunch of material without stopping to analyze where you're going wrong -- making the same mistake repeatedly can actually reinforce the bad habit and worsen your score!

For others who are going the self-study route, I recommend:

    Finding a way to diagnose yourself. What kinds of problems are you missing consistently? What do they have in common? Of those problems, which ones come up the most frequently in the tests that you take? You can come up with your own "skills" to focus on, use the skills in the OG, or search the internet for more ideas.

    Spending as much time reviewing your practice tests/questions as you do taking them. If you missed a problem, why did you get it wrong? If you guessed correctly on a problem, how can you get it right next time without guessing? If a problem took you longer than it should have, is there a method to do it faster? Don't train yourself to do the problem wrong by making the same mistake again!

Best of luck with your applications!


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