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From 650 to 760

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Nyknights Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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12 Jul 2017
Posted:
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From 650 to 760

Post Wed Jul 12, 2017 2:53 pm
I took the GMAT many times, I was disappointed many times and I ended up with a score of 760 (50Q/44V).

If I can offer any words of advice based on my experience I would say don't be afraid to fail but work hard enough so that you know you won't have any regrets looking back on your preparation if you are disappointed. Secondly, be prepared to take the test more than once. All of the material on the test can be learned if you put in the effort, there is a way to improve your abilities if you weren't satisfied with your last test result.

I first took the GMAT back in 2014 after taking a Kaplan in person class, however I undertook this exercise without any goals. I didn’t know what score I wanted, where I wanted to go to school or what I wanted to do after doing my MBA. I would recommend having a pretty good idea of the answers to some of these questions as you begin your GMAT journey. At this time, I was studying for the GMAT because I felt I had some extra time to fill outside of work hours and I thought this might be a productive way to make use of it. I can’t honestly remember the extent of my studying regimen back then but I do remember that from an attitude perspective I treated studying as something to fit around other plans. When I took the test I scored 650 (41 Q/ 38V). After taking a couple of months off I decided I would take the test again and focused almost exclusively on improving my quant score. I still hadn’t answered any of the questions I mentioned earlier but simply felt I was capable doing of doing better so I figured I would give it another go, I scored 690 (45Q/ 40V). Coming out of the test, I felt pretty good and didn’t give the GMAT too much more thought for awhile.

Almost two years later when I finally decided to start thinking about applying to business schools, my research told me that I would have a tough time getting accepted to a top program with my score. I decided I would do it all again. I purchased the most recent official guides and question bank access from Kaplan to have more quant questions to answer. This time around I was more focused in my efforts, I studied about 20 hours per week and focused almost exclusively on quant questions, as I had identified this as my primary area of weakness. Typically my strategy was to find a question I struggled with, learn how to do it properly, and then find similar questions to practice until I felt I fully understood the topic. After about a month of studying I started taking full length practice tests from GMAT Prep once a week. I was seeing scores in the 720 - 750 range come up consistently on these tests and I was feeling confident. This study period lasted about two and a half months and when I wrote the test I scored 730 (45Q/ 46V). I was happy to have finally broken through the 700 barrier however I was confused as to how I could have spent two and a half months almost exclusively working on math and see no change in my quant score.

I began chatting with different people in the admissions consulting world regarding my chances of admission to top programs. I was never told explicitly that my score would prevent admission, however I decided to write the test again based on a consensus that improving my quant score could go a long way to proving I could handle the course load of a top program. Having already written the test a number of times I felt I needed a different approach if I was going to have any success in improving my quant score. It was suggested to me by an admissions consultant that I could try working with a GMAT tutor, their recommendation was that I reach out to Scott from Target Test Prep.

After chatting with Scott I could tell he had worked with a lot of students in a similar position to mine. He was fully confident that he could help me get my quant score up to a 49 or 50 and while I had my doubts I decided I would give Target Test Prep a try. TTP has an incredible online platform that helps you work through virtually every possible iteration of the math you must know to be successful on the quant section of the GMAT. It is set-up such that there are detailed chapters that teach you the foundational concepts, chapter tests to re-enforce your knowledge and a huge question bank to help put what you’ve learned to the test. Scott felt that I would have no problem working through the online platform on my own and getting to my target score if I was willing to put in the time, however he also offered me the option of personal tutoring if I felt it would help and/or wanted the process to move a little faster. I opted to work with Scott to supplement the work I was doing on my own time. What Scott specializes in is identifying the high value areas of the quantitative section that you are weakest in and helps to turn those weaknesses into strengths.

After about 6 weeks of preparation I decided I would head back in for another crack at the test. The moment when my score popped up was probably the most difficult that I endured throughout my entire GMAT experience, not only did my quant score not improve but my overall score had fallen to a 720. Throughout all my time studying for the GMAT I always felt that I was lacking experience on the quantitative section of the test, given I had studied little math in University, but not that I was incapable. I now wondered if I had finally been beaten, if I truly wasn’t capable of the level of math that I believed I was. Before allowing me to give-up Scott encouraged me to purchase the enhanced score report from my test to see if there was any information we could glean as to what went wrong. As it turns out I had not stuck to the strict timing strategy I had set for myself going into the test and I could clearly tell that over indexing on time spent on the second section of quant questions had negatively effected the number of questions I got right under time constrained conditions after that point. Armed with the knowledge that there was likely a reason that went beyond my level of knowledge and preparation that caused my regression, I decided to give it one final shot.

I spent another 6 weeks working with Target Test Prep’s online module, working with Scott and mixing in a heavier dose of official GMAT retired questions through the official guides. Scott helped me to rebuild my confidence and when I walked into the test centre for the final time I knew I had done everything in my power to improve my quant score. I was strict on timing this time around, allowing myself to guess on a few questions and move on. When I finished the test I confidently raced through to see my score I was overjoyed to see 760 pop up.


A few thoughts on the different prep materials I used:


Kaplan In Person Course:

- It was useful in becoming familiar with the test material and getting comfortable with the format of the test however I’m not confident that it is the right tool to help those who are interested in reaching the upper echelon of scores as it has to serve a wide variety of aptitudes and abilities

GMAT Prep Practice Tests:

- This tool is absolutely essential. It gives you the opportunity to get an accurate sense of what the test is like and uses real, retired GMAT questions unlike other practice tests. You can feel comfortable writing these tests more than once and only seeing a few repeated questions

Manhattan Practice Tests:

- I didn’t really mention this in my story above but I wrote several Manhattan practice tests as well. Manhattans quant sections are very calculation heavy to an extent that is not indicative of the true testing experience. Writing these practice test can be useful if you have already written all the GMAT practice tests more than once but you should go into it understanding that your score probably wont be predictive

Target Test Prep:

- I wish I could have found them earlier. I could have saved myself time, money and probably some sleep. The online platform can get you where you need to go on the quant side if you put in the work. If you have extra funds to be able to work with Scott personally I would wholeheartedly recommend it. He took a genuine interest in my success and provided a lifeline when I thought my GMAT journey had ended. Scott even took calls from me when he was on vacation to help reassure me after my initial set-back. I have not come across another tool to date that is as comprehensive and can serve test takers with such a wide range of quantitative goals

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