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GMAT Debrief: From 670 to 710 with EMPOWERgmat

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msauers Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts
Joined
17 Jan 2015
Posted:
23 messages

GMAT Debrief: From 670 to 710 with EMPOWERgmat

Post Tue Nov 08, 2016 2:45 pm
Books & materials used
  • Official Guide 13th Ed
  • EmpowerGMAT review guides and online videos
  • GMATClub + Beat the GMAT forums


CAT (all official GMAT Prep) Results and Official Score
  • Official Exam: 07/24/15; 670 Q 44 V 38 IR 4 AWA 5.5
  • CAT 1: 06/25/16; 710 Q 47 V 41 IR 5
  • CAT 2: 07/10/16; 650 Q 47 V 34 IR 7
  • CAT 3: 07/24/16; 710 Q 48 V 38 IR 4
  • CAT 4: 08/06/16; 700 Q 47 V 39 IR 4
  • CAT 5: 09/03/16; 710 Q 47 V 41 IR 8
  • CAT 6: 09/10/16; 720 Q 47 V 42 IR 7
  • Official Exam: 09/19/16; 710 Q 47 V 41 IR 8 AWA 6


Background information
  • Education: BS in Business Administration with a major in Finance from a top 25 U.S. public university
  • Employment: Strategy consulting analyst
  • Post-MBA target industry: Tech strategy & bizops


General strategy

In late June of 2016, I started the EMPOWERgmat full plan after scoring a 670 Q44/V38 in July 2015. In my first round with the GMAT, I self-studied with some hand-me-down Manhattan Prep strategy guides and the 13th Ed Official Guide. It was a decent foundation, but I lacked the finer points (e.g. timing and triage) required to hit my goal score (>700).

After reading many positive reviews about EMPOWERgmat’s course, particularly its TEST IT, TEST THE ANSWER, and TRIAGE tactics, I decided to enroll. At $349 for 3 months with GMAT Prep Exam Packs 1 and 2 ($100 value) included, it was a steal. Regardless of which prep material I chose, I would have purchased the exam packs, so that made EMPOWERgmat’s course $249 for 3 months in my opinion. Even better.

I spent 87 days and ~200 hours on prep (I tracked everything). The course allowed me to understand how the exam worked and how to train/practice/instill the right habits to succeed on test day. The biggest difference that I noticed on test day was the absence of anxiety/pressure to answer every question correctly. If I spent too much time on a question, I triaged it. I came across a multi-shape geometry question and ditched it immediately. I applied Test It at least a dozen times. On Verbal, I knew how to read each CR answer with intense skepticism. It was much easier to eliminate answers after watching Max's videos. I felt prepared and confident.

Takeaways and Advice
  • Take practice CATs under real test-like conditions
  • Give yourself enough time to perform an autopsy after each CAT (I wish I did that more thoroughly)
  • Read the news (especially op-eds) with a critical mind, it becomes easier and easier to identify reasoning flaws (e.g. past performance is not indicative of future performance) in writing
  • Maintain a consistent schedule (try to study at the same time each day)
  • Eat well
  • Workout (especially cardio). Running would help clear my mind and de-stress.

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