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A Long Journey of Juggling Multiple Responsibilities to Purs

This topic has 2 member replies

A Long Journey of Juggling Multiple Responsibilities to Purs

Post Sun Jun 05, 2016 9:30 pm
Background: I am a military officer with 10 years of experience and a young family (two kids under 3). I am currently stationed abroad as an exchange officer and am also enrolled in an intensive part-time masters program for international relations. I started my GMAT journey in Dec 2013 when I tried to cram for the test in a few weeks. I took the test after about 8 weeks of studying and got a 600 (34Q, 39V). I was devastated to say the least. I got back on the GMAT horse early this year when my family and I decided to seriously consider transitioning from the military to pursue outside interests.

Current Journey (Overview): Given my current family, work, and educational responsibilities, I knew I could not just cram for a test like the GMAT. I spent a little over three months studying just for the quant (I do a lot of reading and writing for work and the part-time masters program) and I wanted something that would help me get in the 700s in the GMAT. After a bit of research, I stumbled upon Target Test Prep (TTP) and thought I would take advantage of their promotion of trying out the program for a week for $1. After a week, I was hooked and I knew that TTP was going to help me get where I wanted to go. Over the next three months, I methodically went through all of the chapters in TTP and did several tutorials with Scott (CEO of TTP). My confidence increased and my ability to do challenging math problems within 2 mins also grew by leaps and bounds. I spent the first two months going through the programing and doing lots of problems (between TTP and practice tests, I did over 2500 math problems). The last month I took 5 practice tests and had several tutoring sessions with Scott. Due to work, family, and school commitments, I had to take the GMATs on 1 June and was prepared to take it again in July/Aug if it did not go as well as planned. I can happily report that I scored a 700 (44Q, 42V) and though it is not the best score in the world, I am very proud of what I was able to accomplish.


I took a Manhattan Practice GMAT (MGMAT) test in early Jan 2016 to see what level I was beginning from: 590 (40Q, 32V)

MGMAT #2 620 (39Q, 35V) (15 Feb)
MGMAT #3 570 (37Q, 34V) (30 Apr)

I also took a few Official GMAC practice test as well (after completing more of the TTP material):

Test #1 660 (42Q, 39V) (7 May)
Test #2 640 (45Q, 33V) (14 May)
Test #3 700 (46Q, 40V) (21 May)
Test #4 670 (44Q, 38V) (28 May)

Actual Test 700 (44Q, 42V) (1 Jun)

As you can see, I was all over the place with MGMAT tests; some of that was due to work commitments and some due to me being just tired. The MGMAT tests are much harder in quant. I averaged about a 670 (44Q and 38V) between the 4 official practice tests so I was ecstatic with the overall and final result.

I did a lot of quant problems (over 2500 between TTP and practice tests) and did absolutely no studying for the verbal.

Lessons Learned:

- The test is beatable; it is largely up to you on how much you are willing to sacrifice for it. I ended up sleeping between 5-6 hours a night (including weekends) for the last 5 months so I could fulfill my family, work, and master’s program commitments and put forth my best effort towards the GMAT. I was tired often, and pretty much had no personal life. It was and still is worth it for me. That level of commitment and sacrifice may not be needed/worth it for others. Only you can decide that.

- MGMAT tests were very useful in the sense that they gave very detailed answers when reviewing, but if I had to do it all over again, I would have just skipped them altogether for the official practice tests.

- I did a lot of problems in preparation for the exam. Because of my other commitments, I had to effectively take a two month break in my studying (all of Feb and Mar). This was not helpful. I dont think the amount of problems you do is important. Rather, the quality is what is most important. I did the military thing and just churned through lots and lots of problems. I should have did a better job of analyzing each problem: what did i do well? What did I mess up on? What are other ways of solving the problem? etc

- I had - and still do - have an issue of making careless mistakes. This will kill you if you do not get a grip on it. In this journey, I did make significant improvements. Things that helped me where: writing clearly and neatly; writing down what the question is actually asking for after doing a thorough stem analysis; slowing down.

- Invest in what works for you. TTP dedicated study plan is absolutely worth it for those who want to make significant gains in quant. TTP is an amazing program that takes the student methodically and logically through fundamental quant principles. The program allows the student to go through the material at their own pace and covers everything you are going to see in the GMAT quant section. The data analytics allows you to see what your strengths and weaknesses are and enables you then to spend time and effort on refining those weaker areas. Customizable tests and tons of problems allows each student to master any and every subject within the quant portion of the exam. Over three months of studying (about 10 - 15 hours a week) I went from struggling with and fearing the quant section to being excited to take the test. My quant score went up from 34 to 44 over that time and I am now able to reasonably apply to any school I want. I also must say that Scott and Jeff were super responsive and flexible to my needs . The tutoring was also worth it for me as Scott very patiently got me to break some very bad habits and show me some very valuable quant connections that came in extremely handy during the exam. No matter what you choose to use in your preparation, make sure you realize that any time/money spent is an investment into your future! Choose wisely!

Conclusion: The GMAT is absolutely a test you can study for and beat. Some people have to put more effort than others, but that is true for almost anything in life. Also, lots of people take it more than 2 times; do not sit there and wonder why you are knocking out a 700 on the first try; most people dont do that! It was a grueling all-consuming journey and I am happy it is over. I learned a lot in the process- both in quant and about myself. Don’t give up and keep believing. I am planning to apply to a few schools in the top 15 range (HBS, GSB, Tuck, Yale SOM, and Darden) and hope to be fortunate enough to get into one (or all Smile ) of them. Good luck!

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diegocml Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts Default Avatar
15 Mar 2016
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Post Sun Jun 05, 2016 11:51 pm
Hi RunningWithPurpose,

First off, congratulations - I bet you must've sacrificed a lot to reach that 700! Well deserved!

I did a lot of quant problems (over 2500 between TTP and practice tests) and did absolutely no studying for the verbal.
With regards to the statement above, your verbal score went from 39V to 42V, and you claimed you didn't study any verbal. I think you're fortunate to have a strong foundation in verbal. Smile

I'm following the TTP curriculum and I am struggling to juggle between quant and verbal, and I was hopping you could give me some tips. I guess I'll have to pass on that.

Besides the exercises you did from the GMATPrep tests, have you gone through the OG?

Cheers and good luck with your applications.


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

Post Mon Jun 06, 2016 12:24 am

I did not study at all for the verbal. But I do A LOT of reading and writing for both work and my graduate program. I read about 200-300 pages a week (on average; both technical and general) and that honestly is probably the reason I did well on the verbal section. In the verbal section, SC is my weakest area by far. I generally score above 90% in both RC and CR. The improvement in my verbal score from 39 to 42 is probably the result of becoming better with timing, building more endurance, and getting better at eliminating wrong answers within the SC portion.

As for the quant, I did not use anything but the TTP programing. I am sure you can use the OG and other materials, and I am sure it would help. But, given my limited time, I just used TTP. I found their questions to be very similar to the kinds of questions I saw during the actual exam.

Balancing both Quant and Verbal can be challenging. In an ideal world, I would have studied for both and I would like to believe I would have scored higher. Again, for me, time was the limiting factor. I just could not manage to study for both sections and maintain my other responsibilities.

Best of luck to you and your studies!

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