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Disappointed: 690 (Q47, V38) - recap of test and preparation

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Gans Just gettin' started! Default Avatar
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Disappointed: 690 (Q47, V38) - recap of test and preparation Post Thu Dec 20, 2007 1:21 pm
First of all, though this post appears under the "I just beat the GMAT" category, I don't think I succeeded in "beating" GMAT, at least this time round, since my target score is in the low 700s.
My background: Indian on the wrong side of 30s with an Engg. background; 10+ years job experience; full-time job; wonderful family of 4 - I can't thank my wife and kids enough who put up with all my time-off from family.

*** Warning: Long post *****

I took the GMAT this morning - the result: 690 (90%ile); Q47 (81%ile), V38 (84%ile) - not too thrilled with the score. But yet, I feel obligated to share my story with my fellow-BTGs (Beat-the-Gmatters, for short), for I am very grateful to Eric and scores of others who have made this lively site a wonderful GMAT resource.

AWA: Prior to the actual exam, I took only 2 full-length tests, but I wrote about 6 essays on the side in isolation, including argument and issue topics. I also went through a random sample of arguments and issues from the "AWA Essays" doc on this site.
Not too pleased with my performance in the argument section - I could come up with only feeble arguments, but thought I had a good structure. The issue section was relatively far better - I would be happy to get an overall score of 5.

Quant: I breezed thru the first 5/6 questions so comfortably fast that I had a comfortable buffer of 5 minutes at that point. Alas! Good things (and nerves) don't last long - around the 9th or 10th question, I pondered too long, losing all of the buffer time that I had built until that point. The result - I guessed on a few questions just to get back on the time front. I may be repeating a cardinal rule ad-nauseam, but it is worth repeating - your nerves are the key. Prior to the exam, I knew fully well that winning the "battle", in terms of solving a question but taking too long in the process, only results in losing the "war" - that is, the section as well as the overall score. But come exam time, I lost time in winning the "battle". I must have guessed on a total of 5 questions (to the best of my recollection) roughly between questions 9 and 20, especially on DS questions which typically need more time than PS ones (at least speaking for myself). I got back on the time-track around question 25.

Took a break - almost immediately recollected a blunder on a particular question and felt miserable. My feeling at this stage was a Q score in the mid-to-upper 40's.

Ate a few cookies, took a breather, and said to myself that I still had a fighting chance of a score >= 720, if I held my nerves better and did well in Verbal.

Verbal: My time-management in Verbal was surprisingly better that it was in the Q section - "surprising" because I have always had time-trouble with Verbal during my practice tests. The SC questions were fairly easy, and the RC passages were not very complicated, unlike the brutal ones that I had encountered in the Kaplan tests.
Towards the end, I had more than 2 minutes on an average for the last 6 questions! I finished the section comfortably, taking a leisurely 2.5 minutes for the last (SC) question.

Did a quick recap of my V performance at this stage - I thought I got 90% RC & SC and around 70% CR right.

Post-test thoughts: I expected a Q scaled score in the mid-to-upper forties and a "V" scaled score from the low-to-mid 40's, especially considering my comfort level with Verbal. So I began to entertain thoughts of a 700+ score, only to find the "cat-on-the wall" score of 690 (Q47, V38) - huge disappointment! Maybe if I had done 1 or 2 more questions correctly, I would have broken the 700- barrier - sigh!

Preparation:
I followed the advice of a friend of mine who scored a 720, and read materials in the order that he had recommended. But I am proud to say that this site was my "discovery" - am I glad to have found this site or what!
I prepared for about 3 months, which I think is a sufficient duration. I started with Princeton, which I thought gave a very good overview and feel of the exam. I particularly liked their Verbal explanations. Also, I felt the questions in "Bin 4" (Quant) were quite tough, especially under timed conditions.
Then moved on to Kaplan, and then to OG (Orange), OG-11 (Q & V), in that order. I also used CR, PS & DS material from this wonderful site (thanks again, Eric!).

Other materials: SC MGmat guide - can't say enough about this guide - definitely a factor in my steady SC improvement; Spidey's & Sahil's SC notes.

Practice tests:
1. PR CAT1 (Mid-October): 650
2. Kap1 (Nov. 10th): 590 (felt a sickening blow - others' remarks about the "stingy" Kaplan marking scheme did nothing to alleviate my shock)
3. Kap2 (Nov. 17th): 550 (felt even more miserable - I thought I was supposed to improve upon my previous score???)
4. Kap3 (Nov. 24th): 560 (marginal improvement, though I thought the marking was unfair, as, for the first time with Kaplan, I managed to complete the V & Q sections with relatively more correct answers).
5. Gmat Prep1 - full-length test with AWA (Dec. 1st): 710 (Wow! This was a real boost to me - I began to see sense in others' remarks about Kaplan's scores being 70-110 lower than one's actual capabilities). At the same time, I had to take this score with a grain of salt, as I found a lot of overlap in the Verbal section - about 6 questions - during the test, I marked these with an "F" on the side, indicating to myself that I was already familiar with these questions. But at the same time, I felt elated at having broken through the "700" barrier!
6. PR CAT2 (Dec. 8th): 720 - I had only 2 quant mistakes and the best verbal performance to-date - only 7 errors! But I thought 50% of the quant Qs were on the "easy" side.
7. Kap4 (Dec. 9th): 590 - I really wanted to break the 600-barrier in Kap, and I almost succeeded - my best Kap Quant performance - 32 out of 35 correct! But my Verbal performance on Kap was still fraught with time-trouble and low accuracy problems.
You may ask as to why I continued to subject myself to the "torture" of the Kap tests, especially the Verbal section, but I can tell you this - it is excellent practice! I feel that one is battle-ready for the actual Verbal section if he/she gains a comfort level with the Kap Verbal tests.
8. Gmat Prep2 - full-length test with AWA (Dec. 15th): 720 - Before the test, I hoped that I got as few familiar questions as possible, and I got that wish this time - only 2 familiar OG questions in Verbal. On the flip-side, I guessed on the quant section and it so happened that 3 of my guesses turned out correct! Nevertheless, I thought I had a "700 streak" going, judging from the three 700+ scores out of my last 4.
9. The Real deal - Dec. 20th: 690 (Q47, V38).

That's all, guys. I am not really happy with my score - I would have been much happier with even 10 more points that would have catapulted me to the "700" zone.

I was eyeing Duke's Executive MBA, but this may be out of bounds with my current score.

P.S.: For what it is worth - having heard warnings about the laminated practice sheets and marker pen provided during the actual exam, I visited my exam center two weeks before my "D" day, got information about the laminated sheets and had a look at the kind of pen that would be provided. I got a couple of A4-sized papers laminated and bought an ultra-fine marker pen so as to get a good feel for the actual exam conditions as far as possible. I recycled these sheets for my last 3 tests - simply wiped off the earlier test work with guess what - after-shave!

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camitava GMAT Destroyer! Default Avatar
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Post Thu Dec 20, 2007 1:46 pm
Hey Gans! Ur score is not at all a bad one, I think so! Yah! It's very sad that u failed to meet ur target but with this score also u can break the ice. Go ahead man ...

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Regards,

Amitava

Post Thu Dec 20, 2007 4:14 pm
Hey Gans,

Congrats on the score! 690 should not prevent you from applying! And.... if it is any consolation, I got a 690 the first time having never broke 700 on a practice. I studied hard for a month, retook, and got a 710!

Stick with it if you know you can do it! Your piece of mind will outweigh that $250 for the test..


Let us know what you do!

achandwa Rising GMAT Star Default Avatar
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Post Thu Dec 20, 2007 4:34 pm
Hi Gans,
Congrats on your score! I scored the same as well and I am aiming for Duke executive MBA too. I attended their campus visit and got a favorable response on my GMAT score. I don't think the GMAT score should be your worry. I think work experience counts far more for a part-time MBA. After you satisfy the cut-off on the GMAT, it probably doesn't matter how much higher you score, unless ofcourse you score in the 760-800 range that demonstrates exceptional abilities. I completely understand your feelings as I was sunken too on seeing a 690 after 4 months of preparation. But, think about it. 10-20 points more isn't going to make a big difference. So, I would say, don't obsess on the GMAT score and work on the other aspects of the application. Wish you good luck! BTW, if you are local in NC we can probably get in touch and discuss the application strategies. Email me at ashishchandwadkar@hotmail.com.
-Ashish

Gans Just gettin' started! Default Avatar
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Post Thu Dec 20, 2007 6:42 pm
Amitava, Optimistic Sam & Ashish,
Thanks for the kind words of encouragement. I am still debating whether to re-test - Sam's words are tempting me in that direction.
Ashish - thanks for letting me know that Duke may not be out of bounds, after all! And yes, I live in NC too (Winston) - you can expect an email from me sometime soon.

Thanks guys,
Gans.

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sujitmgmat Just gettin' started! Default Avatar
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Post Thu Dec 20, 2007 10:03 pm
Congratulations on the score. The average GMAT score for Executive MBA at Duke is 644. So you are well above the average!

Regarding Executive MBA at Duke, I am also thinking of applying for the same. Is it a strong program though? I am getting mixed reviews. Your feedback will be appreciated.

Gans Just gettin' started! Default Avatar
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Post Sun Dec 23, 2007 7:02 pm
Thanks Sujit! To tell you the truth, I haven't done much research on the Exec MBA pgm at Duke - I considered Duke's ranking alone. Feel free to write to me at gans_sub@hotmail.com so that we could move discussion irrelevant to the topic ("I just beat the GMAT") off-line.

Best regards,
Gans.

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