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From 650 to 740. My Story... [ Updated with two documents]

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karanrulz4ever Master | Next Rank: 500 Posts Default Avatar
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From 650 to 740. My Story... [ Updated with two documents]

Post Thu Oct 28, 2010 3:55 am
Hi guys,
I took the GMAT on the 26th October for the second time in Mumbai. Scored 740 (Q:50 / V: 40/ AWA: 5.0). Here goes the debrief of a long relationship between me and GMAT.
Let me first describe my profile. I am a software engineer from India and completed my bachelors in engineering in 2009 and have been working for the last one year or so. I had some time between graduating middle of last year and starting to work end of last year. I always wanted to do an MBA from a world class university and hence started preparing for the GMAT,as the scores are valid for 5 years, which will give me enough time to gain some valuable work-ex and then applying for an MBA(preferably in fall 2012).
So with this motivation in heart and determination in mind I started my preparation for the GMAT around September 2009. Started with Quant, which I felt was my strength as I was an engineer and always loved Math. As expected, I felt prepared for Quant soon. Then I started preparing for verbal,which I heard from many people is a pain. Anyways I just went through the GMAT Grammar basics and practiced a few sentence correction questions after which I gave a MGMAT test. My guide told me that he was expecting 500. I scored 540(Dont quite remember the dynamics of Quant and verbal as more than a year passed after giving this test Smile ). It was after this that I started practicing questions from OG-12. As expected Quant was a breeze, but verbal was surprisingly a bit too difficult. My accuracy in verbal was barely 50%. But anyways, I wasnt discouraged and started to take things as they came. Practicing from OG-12 and a few other sources was going on when I first encountered the GMAT Prep software. Attracted by the prospect of giving a test(I dont know why but I felt a bit of euphoria with the thought of giving the test, probably as I had just given one mock test), I went ahead and gave the test. I was expecting another score in the 500's but saw a pleasant score of 670. I was like...is this software reliable? Then I came to know that it is the most reliable software as far as the GMAT score is concerned. Smile This increased my confidence tremendously and the possibility of scoring 700+ gave me that extra kick. But then a big turn around took place. I was placed in a reputed IT company and suddenly and unexpectedly, I got a joining date,which was just 15 days away. I felt,there goes my plan of giving the GMAT before joining the company. Anyways, I found heart and felt that I should be able to appear for the test in January if I could manage around 2 hours of GMAT study time each day. Unfortunately, the initial job based training took out nearly 11 hours out of my day's time and the 13 hours remaining each day was used in traveling across Mumbai(to and fro between office and residence) and other stuff. Smile Somehow, I still managed to study a bit in weekends. Even though I wasnt able to increase my capability, I was successful in atleast keeping my capability where it was.
At that time I felt that once when the training would be over, I will be able to devote more time. But to my surprise, the responsibility on me just kept on increasing and I felt that if I dont take the test soon, all the hard work I had put in for nearly an year would be gone in the dumps. I found a slight leeway throughout July and hence opted to take the test on 28th July 2010.

First test experience :
Started preparing a bit intensely end of June,the time I joined this amazing forum. Studied for around 2 hours each day and gave one GMAT Prep test each week.Preparations were going fine till the time when I started to get unusually nervous. Generally, I am a cool guy and it takes a lot to make me tensed and nervous. But for some unknown reason, I took the test a bit too seriously for my liking. I read through various stories of people taking the test doing X,Y and Z and I tried to follow all those. Stuff, such as not studying much in the last week, taking Gatorade, splashing water on the face etc. ,influenced me and I decided to do the same.But all such stuff just succeeded in making me even more nervous and tensed. One big mistake I was committing was that in the mock tests, I wasnt attempting the AWA section.Though the scores were in the range of 700-750, as I didnt attempt the AWA section, the scores werent the real predicting factors of my readiness especially considering the long and tedious format of the GMAT.Though I wasnt at my confident best, I chose not to cancel or postpone the test and to give the test on the day chosen as after that my work would keep me busy. I dont know whether this was a smart decision or not now that I retrospect, but at that time it was the only option. It was only during the actual test that I was attempting the AWA for the first time and this was my undoing. Towards the end of my verbal section, I wasnt even able to read the entire argument or sentence well and this took a lot of time. An already long story short, I performed poorly. Outcome : 650(Q: 49 V: 29).Tremendously below par for me.

Lessons learnt:

1) Attempting the AWA section in the mock tests as this increases endurance and stamina. In the subsequent mock attempts, I didnt stress on the essays just ensured that I feel like I have already given some part of the test before the 1st question of quant.

2) Following your own routine which has worked well for most part of 2 decades. All of us might have given innumerable tests so far and followed specific patterns. But still some fools like me try to copy someone else' method and hope to do well. I realized it a tad too late that all bodies are not the same and that some patterns work with some people while dont work with the rest. So follow the pattern and the methodology which works for you.

3) RELAX. Afterall GMAT is just a test,not a life changer as some people feel. Take it as a challenge not a burden. It was then that I started enjoying studying. SC questions became less annoying and I suddenly began to read the CR questions better.

4) Mental conditioning : I cannot stress how important this really is. GMAT is a very exhaustive test and going through the 4 hours can be very very tedious. I would advice all to just follow methods which work for you to be in the best state you can be in the test.

5) Practice : For some strange reason, after the test I felt I didnt practice enough of SC. After the test attempt, I started reading the 3rd edition Manhattan SC guide and felt like I am reading and learning a lot more stuff than I know. Practiced SC questions(atleast 10 in a day) from various sources including the SC questions on this amazing forum. Practicing SC questions on this forum and explaining them really helped clean the unclear information on SC and helped improve my confidence in solving any SC question.

6) JUST FOCUS ON THE QUESTION THAT'S ON THE SCREEN. Don't focus on the nitty-gritty details on the GMAT algorithm.

Second test experience :
Work took precedence for a while and I could allot only about 1 hour each week day for study and around 3 hours each weekend. Things went this way till October mid.I had decided that I wont be making the mistake of taking the test date a month in advance as it will give me an opportunity to get anxious. So I gave a GMAT Prep(I was giving this test for the 9th time I feel) on 18th October and scored a 760. Something hit me and I felt that I should give the test on 26th. I dont know how did I come to this date. I,by nature, am a spiritual person and I have full faith in the supreme being. 17th was Dasara(a Hindu festival) and I felt I got the date straight from God. Also, 26th too was a religious day and I felt it was good omen to give the test. I immediately checked whether that date was available. To my disappointment, it wasnt. 25th was available and so was 27th and 28th. But not 26th. I left the thought and started my routine again. Something again hit me on 21st and I again checked mba.com for the dates. To my surprise 26th 10 am was available. Without too much fuss and thinking, I just took the date and scheduled this appointment. I guess this helped as I didnt find the time nor the inclination to get nervous.
I again gave a test on 24th at 10 am and mimicked the test conditions as much as possible. I also wore the same clothes I was to wear in the actual test. Scored 760 again. Felt confident and just relaxed for the rest day and a half before the test day. To say that I didnt feel any pangs before the test day would be an understatement. I was a bit nervous but I told myself that I am just appearing this mock test tomorrow. I meditated, met my partner in the evening and went for dinner with family the day before. I slept well and got up early next morning raring to go. I offered my prayers, ate oats for breakfast and zoomed into the test center,which is only a couple of kilometers away from my place.
Reached there half an hour early. People had already come there and were ready to check in. I completed my procedures and was ready for the test. Finished the Argument section in 15 mins or so and rushed into the issue section. Finished that in 15 minutes too. But I somehow didnt feel like rushing now. So decided to just keep sitting there staring at the screen and smiling at the CCTV camera above me Smile . Then in about 10 mins or so, I felt bored and opted for the break. I didnt drink gatorade but drank the good old water. Went into the washroom, stretched a little on coming back and went to the window, which had a small opening, in the center. There was a cool Merc car parked and I couldnt help but admire it. I even forgot that I m here for the test. Went back and noticed I had some 2 minutes to go.
Quant went fine. I somehow was worried in the middle of the section as I was not getting harder questions. I would say the questions were of an slight lower level than in GMATPrep too. But I somehow convinced myself that all I can do is focus on the question on the screen and try to solve it. So thats what I did and finished the section with about 4 minutes to go. Usually I finish my Quant about 1-2 minutes before time on GMAT Prep. So this got me a bit worried. I took the break. I ate some biscuits Mom had given me and drank water. Went to the washroom, stretched a little and again began looking at that beautiful Merc model. Then stretched a little when luckily the examiner called me and told that my break was getting over. So I rushed to the PC and found that only 30 seconds remained for the start of verbal. I heaved a sigh of relief and thought how lucky I was and thanked the examiner. Smile
Verbal started well. In all the tests I had attempted, most of the time I finish verbal well before time. Even in my previous GMAT attempt I finished verbal around 9 minutes before time. I decided to take some time in solving questions. So everything was going fine till I guess the 23rd question when I looked at the watch which said 21 minutes remaining. I panicked a little and started rushing. Then a huge setback in the form of a big RC passage. Somehow skimmed and answered the questions,of which I now wonder how many were right. Then around the 33rd question again a big RC passage and the clock was showing 8 minutes. There were about 5 paras and 5-6 lines in each para. I just skimmed through the lines at a rate of knots and answered the questions. I expect I got just 1 right out of the 4. Then again encountered a CR question at no 38. Clock showing 2 mins. Wondered why is the clock running so fast. Just randomly marked answers for 38,39 and came to a simple CR question at 40. I was demoralized. Took a minute or so and marked an answer. Question no 41 was one of the simplest SC question one can get. It was a small sentence where the underlined part was one of the most basic idioms( cant disclose it coz of the GMAC Policy Smile ) . I was bitterly annoyed at myself and began expecting another 650 around score. Zipped through the profile information, chose Report scores and hit Next. Saw 740(97 %ile). Q: 50(93 %ile) and V: 40(89 %ile). I just kept looking at the screen for a couple of minutes. Then I was about to jump in the air. But somehow controlled myself, thanked the almighty, and left the center.
Came out, switched on my phone and messaged my partner and parents about the scores. My partner called and expressed her happiness. That felt nice. Mom and Dad called and congratulated me. Their happiness meant more to me than the score itself.
I want to thank the almighty, my family, my partner and friends who were with me throughout. Also this amazing forum, which gives us access to read the minds of some experts. I read Ron's explanations as if my life depended on it. Smile
This has been an unusually long debrief. Sorry for that. Smile All you guys are welcome to ask any questions about my preparation and also about GMAT in general. Thanks once again. Smile Will need your help during application too.
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My 740 Debrief



Last edited by karanrulz4ever on Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:45 pm; edited 11 times in total

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niksworth Legendary Member Default Avatar
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Post Thu Oct 28, 2010 4:28 am
Congratulations! Excellent score. You have sent the beast to the dungeons. It will never bother you again!

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karanrulz4ever Master | Next Rank: 500 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Thu Oct 28, 2010 5:13 am
Thanks a lot!!! Smile

arun8421 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Thu Oct 28, 2010 5:54 am
Hi Karan,

Inspiring Debrief:)I scored 680(Q50 V31) in my first attempt.I have my exam on Saturday .........Hope i could replicate your score this time Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

karanrulz4ever Master | Next Rank: 500 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:17 am
Quote:
Hi Karan,

Inspiring Debrief:)I scored 680(Q50 V31) in my first attempt.I have my exam on Saturday .........Hope i could replicate your score this time Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
You surely would score well. Just let not GMAT get into your head. Be as normal as you can.

lalitgmat Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:32 am
Many Congrats.

Would appreciate, if you can answer below queries for me.

What was the difficulty level of Quants vis-a-vis with gmat-prep. I assume, 700+ levels need real solid quants grasp. But just to compare, like were they more like speed breakers or out-of-box thought needing questions.

And how did you prepare for Verbal.

Thanks

karanrulz4ever Master | Next Rank: 500 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Thu Oct 28, 2010 9:14 am
Well...as I mentioned in my debrief, Quant wasnt even of the level you experience in GMAT Prep. I felt that I am getting all 600-level problems.. Smile I got one combinations problem but it was very easy, straight implementation of the combinations property. I was also worried about my performance on the Quant section. Smile

on verbal: well, there is not a thing I didnt do. But I ll tell you the more important ones. SC was an area I needed constant work on. I went through OG-12 explanations, MGMAT SC guide. Solved many problems on the BTG SC forum which was a difference maker I think. Solving and helping people on the forum helped me to get my basics right. CR needed some practice. I didnt practice RC much as practicing CR helped to a large extent in RC too.

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Post Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:27 am
Let me first congratulate on your great success. Can you please let me know what kind of RC, how many question all around in RC, and what is your thoughts about the types of RC questions (you nailed in the GMAT)?

Please let me know as it will be a great help.

THanks,
Shovan

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karanrulz4ever Master | Next Rank: 500 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:41 am
Well Shovan, thanks first of all. Smile
On RC, there were 4 passages, each of 4 questions. The first two were easy(probably because I was taking time as suggested in my debrief!) but the last two were lengthy. And about the RC questions, well those were of the same type as we all must have practiced on GMAT Prep,OG or MGMAT( specific questions, inference questions, highlighted questions etc.)

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Post Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:51 am
karanrulz4ever wrote:
Well Shovan, thanks first of all. Smile
On RC, there were 4 passages, each of 4 questions. The first two were easy(probably because I was taking time as suggested in my debrief!) but the last two were lengthy. And about the RC questions, well those were of the same type as we all must have practiced on GMAT Prep,OG or MGMAT( specific questions, inference questions, highlighted questions etc.)
Yes thanks!! but what I was asking...
the type of RC means Technology, Business, History. Because I am weak when historians start talking in RC Wink else no problem for me.
If you remeber so then let me know?

And 4 RC 4 Q each-- 16 u got Phew!!

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Post Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:24 pm
Well on the type of passages...from what i seem to remember, one was on technology, one on the discoveries, and other two were short passages, which seemed to be picks from a magazine. There were no passages on historians. But I dont think you can predict which topics you are going to encounter in RC's. Sad
And yes!!! 16 questions...Sad No wonder I was running out of time...

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Post Fri Oct 29, 2010 12:30 am
Thanks yaar!! No I know I cannot count on that but Now at least I m sure that I may have an exam without these Historians, boosting up my confidence level Smile

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Post Fri Oct 29, 2010 12:37 am
Hey .. Contrats for ur achievement .. great score!!
and thnks a ton for sharing such a inspirational debrief with us

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Post Fri Oct 29, 2010 4:07 am
@karanrulz4ever : that's an impressive achievement. Congratulations !

You mention RCs being up to 5 paragrpahs ? YIt was really of 5 paragraphs and up to 5 and 6 lines, if so, it goes more tha number of words what GMAT claims as maximum limit ?

And second -> What source did you use to practise CR ? all sources and your commentd about each of them plese.

thanks a lot.

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Post Fri Oct 29, 2010 5:29 am
congrats...that's a really nice debrief

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