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650 to 760! Spanked the GMAT!!!

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walkingbanana Just gettin' started! Default Avatar
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650 to 760! Spanked the GMAT!!! Post Sun Jul 26, 2009 3:55 pm
First of all, I would like to give a humongous thank you to all of the people that contribute regularly to this website. I've been lurking in the background for the past several months and have found the explanations truly helpful - the success stories truly motivational.

I first started studying near the end of January 2009. Took GMAT prep1 and got a 650. This was really motivating because things can only get better from here on out…right?

Over the next 5 months, I averaged around 2 hours of study per weekday, 5-6 hours on Saturday and Sunday (including 1 practice test every Saturday).

Materials used:

Kaplan Premier Edition GMAT Prep
Princeton Review GMAT
Official Guide 11th edition
Official Quant Supplemental Guide
Official Verbal Supplemental Guide
Manahattan GMAT SC Guide

I actually feel like I started out a bit haphazardly. I went through the entire OG 11th edition before doing any substantial math and verbal review. In retrospect, I should've saved that valuable source material for use closer to my test date.

Kaplan and Princeton Review book in my opinion provide some basic quant review and they both do a decent job of introducing users to the GMAT format. I took 3 Kaplan practice tests and scores ranged from 540-560. I stopped after the third test because I felt Kaplan tests were not representative of what I would see on the GMAT and more importantly because I just felt so demoralized after each test.

Princeton Review tests seemed much easier on the quant section but fairly representative of actual test on verbal. I thought the scoring system for Princeton Review provided a fairly good predictor of actual GMAT.

After studying for about 5 months, averaging around 700-720, with my target score being 700+, I took the gmat and was on the receiving end of a horrible prison experience. I scored a 650, the exact same score as my very first practice test 5 months earlier! Complete and utter devastation ensued…

Looking back, I know my biggest hurdle was time. On the official test, I was so swept up with the notion that I had to answer the first 7 questions correctly in order to get a high score that I completely threw off my timing and had to randomly guess on the last 7 quant questions with like 1 minute remaining!

In studying verbal, I knew SC was my biggest weakness so that's where I focused all my review efforts. Big mistake! On the actual test, a few difficult CR questions threw me off balance and I ended up taking way more time to solve those problems then I should have. I usually finish the verbal section with 10 minutes to spare, but once again I ran out of time on the real test. I had to completely guess on the last 5 verbal problems in order to finish.

Completely destroyed…I clicked to view score anyway, praying that a miracle might have happened and maybe I guessed the answers to all those questions correctly. However, life is a mean biatch. I ended up with final score of 650. FML

Following this, I took about 2 weeks off, went on vacation, and came back reluctant and bitter, but knowing that I had to retake the test. I knew I could do better. I signed up to re-take the exam 1.5 months later.

I was really surprised by my low quant score and since I was really impressed with manhattan GMAT's SC study guide, I bought the entire quant review set from manhattan gmat. It's a really good series and I highly recommend it for anyone looking to score in the high 40's. BTG and manhattan gmat forums are also great resources for discovering the most efficient methods for solving a majority of math questions.

Also, knowing that my biggest problem was timing, I did all of my practice problems under timed conditions. I also started to make create notecards, writing out principles for all of the practice problems I got wrong. I realize now that even if you have performed a fantastic review for each gmat section, if you're studying over a period of a few months, by the time the test date arrives, theres a high probability that you'll have forgotten at least some of the material learned. Two weeks prior to my test date, I spent an hour everyday looking over all of the notecards I had written to make sure I remembered the tricky principles I was weak on before. By the end of the two weeks, I literally felt like throwing every time I picked up a notecard because I was just so sick of looking at the same material over and over. But this proved really helpful because I had all the information solidly memorized.

Come test day, I arrived at the test center 40 minutes early. I felt a bit jittery, but seeing some of the hyper-nervous individuals signing in in-front of me had an oddly calming effect. One guy was so nervous that he couldn't get his palm scanned because his hands were so sweaty. It literally took like 10 minutes with everyone in the room watching!

Both essays went fairly smoothly. I took like a 5 minute break, got some water, came back and attacked the math section. By far, I devoted the majority of my study time to quant. There are a finite number of math principles that the GMAT tests on, so it's important to get these fundamentals down pat. Every time I see a math problem, I first try to categorize the principle the GMAT authors are trying to test. Then I reach into the files of my brain, pull up the best practice methods I have memorized, and solve! This strategy really worked for me, helping me with both timing and reducing careless errors.
The second time around, I memorized a schedule to keep me on track with time. I got this schedule from someone on manhattan forums, so a big thank you to whoever first came up with this. It's really simple to remember.

Question 1 - 75 min
Question 10 - 55 min
Question 20- 35 min
Question 30 - 15 min

I use the exact same schedule for verbal, remembering that I need to be ahead by a few minutes due to 4 extra questions in the section and potential reading passages ahead.

I followed a similar strategy when I attacked the verbal section. For SC, identify which rules the gmat is testing, apply memorized rules and solve. For CR, there are usually two or three really whack answers, completely outside the scope of the question, that you can immediately eliminate. Same for RC.

I actually felt really good after I completed the verbal section and felt that for sure I would score something higher than a 650. I clicked through the survey screens…..and as the hourglass was turning to calculate score I could feel butterflies in my stomach. Then BOOM! Out popped my score….760! 49Q and 44V! 99th percentile overall! This was way higher than any practice test I had ever taken, including repeats of the same CAT's. Christmas has come early to me this year! At first I seriously couldn't believe it, but now I feel like a massive weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I don't think I've ever studied this hard for anything in my life, but it all paid off and this feeling is glorious!

Maybe the poor first score was a blessing in disguise because it really humbled me and pushed me to achieve something I never would have imaged would occur. Let this be a lesson to all… anything is possible! Don't just study hard, study smart! and any score is possible for anyone!

Practice CAT scores were as follows:
1/31/09 GPREP (42Q/38V) 650
2/7/09 Kaplan (31Q/36V) 560
2/8/09 Kaplan (27Q/29V) 540
2/21/09 PWRPREP (38Q/40V) 650
2/28/09 PWRPREP (47Q/41V) 710  YES!
3/14/09 Kaplan (36Q/31V) 560
3/21/09 GPREP (47Q/38V) 690
3/29/09 Princeton (43Q/41V) 680
4/11/09 Princeton (51Q/36V) 700
4/18/09 GPREP (49Q/39V) 720
4/26/09 GPREP (47Q/41V) 720
5/2/09 OFFICIAL (42Q/38V) 650  devastation 
6/13/09 Princeton (43Q/37V) 650
6/20/09 Manhattan (43Q/36V) 650
6/27/09 Princeton (48Q/39V) 700
7/3/09 GPREP (48Q/42V) 730
7/11/09 GPREP (47Q/42V) 720
7/18/09 GPREP (49Q/40V) 720
7/19/09 GPREP (46Q/38V) 680
7/25/09 Official (49Q/44V) 760  VICTORY!

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david2008 Rising GMAT Star Default Avatar
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Post Sun Jul 26, 2009 4:10 pm
Awesome score, congrats!!

Great debrief. I have 3 days to go myself and reading stories like yours are really inspiring!

Good luck on the rest of the apps,

nnk4006 Just gettin' started! Default Avatar
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Test Date:
7/27/2009
Target GMAT Score:
720
GMAT Score:
700
Post Sun Jul 26, 2009 4:22 pm
Congrats.. You need to take another two weeks of vacation - this time to celebrate victory Smile

ogbeni Really wants to Beat The GMAT! Default Avatar
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Post Mon Jul 27, 2009 5:08 am
Nice! You are Daddy to the GMAT - HA HA - Where will you apply? With good applications you can get into almost any school! I love reading stories like yours. Very inspirational!

sidmem Just gettin' started! Default Avatar
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GMAT Score:
700
Post Sat Aug 01, 2009 11:50 am
Your story is very positive. I just had a dismal outcome from my 1st attempt at GMAT. I will now retake the test after 31-40 days.

Even though, I am comfortable (not great) with Verbal, my scaled verbal score on the test of 25 was shocking! (Definitely an an eye opener).

As I had started the test, I began getting tough Q questions and am sure made some mistakes & took some guesses along the way. My Q scaled score was 46, which I expected. However, I eased through the verabl section since the questions were in simple language. They felt easier than the ones I had practiced. I fully understand that I will need to concentrate both on Q and Verbal but can a corelation be expected between how you do on the first section (Q) and how you are scored on the second section (Verbal)?

Thanking you in advance.

shargaur Rising GMAT Star Default Avatar
Joined
25 Jan 2009
Posted:
37 messages
Test Date:
04/24/2009
Target GMAT Score:
720
Post Sat Aug 01, 2009 4:39 pm
Nice Job Man..

Truly great..

I am on same boat brother.. I appeared last wednesday and score 650 (Q44 V33). First question of quant was guess, and last 3 was guess and missed 1 question at the end. Verbal looked easy to me but goofed up in one of the passage and couple of SC. I am good at CR and Quant..

I need your guidance. My last exam was on 29th July. Can i re-appear on 21st august. I believe its less than month b/n two exams ?

I know i can easily score 48-49 in Quant. What should be my strategy to Conquer Verbal so that i can score better in that.. I get panic when i see SC Questions. RC i can manager.......

Any suggestion will highly be appreciated.

Thanks
sharry

som_frodo Just gettin' started! Default Avatar
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Target GMAT Score:
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Post Sun Aug 02, 2009 10:56 am
wow ! thats a great score. congrats mate ! i'll e writing gmat on this 8th...hope everythin goes fine...

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belize Just gettin' started! Default Avatar
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Post Tue Aug 04, 2009 7:12 am
Great job!

I'd also like to improve my score by 100 in a month or so.

Could you shed some more light on how you took the notes you mentioned?
Did you write out the entire questions and answers or just the main concepts?
Where did you find more difficult questions to practice?

walkingbanana Just gettin' started! Default Avatar
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Post Thu Sep 03, 2009 10:08 am
WHEW sorry for the late responses fellas, but I just got back from a longass GMAT break.

Thanks for all the congratulations everybody, I definitely could not have achieved success without your help.

sidmem - I don't think there is any correlation between either the types of question you get between the math and verbal section, nor how you are scored. If you feel there is any discrepancy at all, this may be because your confidence is affected after a successful or not so successful math section. I know confidence makes a huge difference for me. During your break just remind yourself that a good verbal score can more than compensate for an average quant performance.

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walkingbanana Just gettin' started! Default Avatar
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Post Thu Sep 03, 2009 10:24 am
belize

When I take notes I always try to write out a few sentences to really define the concept that I didn't fully understand. I usually follow this with the question that I got wrong to make sure I never miss it again.

For example:

You multiply when you take a sequence of actions to get the desired outcome.
You add when you break the outcome into different cases. You add the cases to get the total.

eg.
From a group of 7 men and 5 women, how many different committees consisting of 4 men and 2 women can be formed?

Sequence of actions: choose the men, then choose the women
7C4 * 5C2
Here you multiply.

From a group of 7 men and 5 women, how many different committees consisting of 4 men and 2 women can be formed if Jenny and John refuse to be on the committee together?

Case 1: Both Jenny and John are not on the committee.
Sequence of actions: Choose 4 men from the remaining 6 men; choose 2 women from the remaining 4 women
6C4 * 4C2

Case 2: Jenny is on the committee, and John is not.
6C4 * 4C1

Case 3: John is on the committee, and Jenny is not.
6C3 * 4C2

Total: 6C4 * 4C2 + 6C4 * 4C1 + 6C3 * 4C2

Kinda tedious? Yes extremely. But invaluable when you are studying.

Difficult practice problems are hidden all within this forum. I added this site to my rss reader, so literally thousands of problems were flooding my inbox everyday. I just did a couple problems here and there, during lunch, whenever I had free time to keep up my skills.

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www.imamoneygrubber.com

**Includes my GMAT study log and I'll be sharing information when I attend MBA info sessions.**

walkingbanana Just gettin' started! Default Avatar
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Post Thu Sep 03, 2009 10:31 am
shargaur - I actually think there's a rule about waiting a month before you can retake the test? But i'm not too sure, maybe someone can correct me on this?

I actually think SC is alot like quant. Remember, there are a finite number of grammatical rules GMAT tests, so it is very similar to quant.

Identify all of these rules, write them down on notecards, review notecards everyday and you should see your score improve. After awhile, you will know the rules so well that wrong answers appear obviously wrong and the correct answers will seem to jump out of the page.

_________________
Check out my blog!

www.imamoneygrubber.com

**Includes my GMAT study log and I'll be sharing information when I attend MBA info sessions.**

mearora Just gettin' started! Default Avatar
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Post Thu Sep 03, 2009 11:32 am
nothing big nothing fancy just dropped by to say congratulations.

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