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How I went from 580 (Q42 V27) to 710 (Q48 V40)

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kiddles Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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How I went from 580 (Q42 V27) to 710 (Q48 V40)

Post Wed May 12, 2010 8:02 pm
Hi Everyone,

Well, I did it! The GMAT beat me initially, but I bounced back and got my 700+ score. I feel I need to write how I did it since I really appreciated those who wrote similar reviews; I found your reviews quite insightful. I apologize a head of time, this post will not be well written or organized, sorry! Smile

It's been a long journey. I started to study for the beast back in Februray 2009. I used the Kaplan Premier book and the Official Guide for about 6 weeks, wrote the two GMATPrep tests and got 610 and 640. As I'm aiming for a top 5 school, my goal was 700+. Since I wasn't close to a 700, I simply didn't feel confident that I could get my 700 and so I cancelled my test appointment that was scheduled for sometime in April. Work got busy and life moved on for a few months, but I always had the GMAT in the back of my mind. In September, I decided that it was time to get back on the GMAT-bandwagon and hit the books. In October I scheduled my date for mid-December 2009, giving me enough time to go through all the new material. After reading many posts in this forum, I decided to go with Manhattan GMAT this time. I ordered all of their books (the complete set). I actually followed their 9-week (8 week?) course curriculum as if I was taking their course. This way I had a schedule and targets to reach each week. I personally thought that the books were great (please keep reading, because that's not my final assessment of MGMAT) - especially the Math stuff. As geeky as it may sound, I actually enjoyed studying for the math... Looking back, I probably spent 60-70% of my time on the math and 40-30% on verbal. I was taking one MGMAT test per week, etc. and had a great routine. I studied like mad - 4/5 weekday evenings and every weekend. I was doing better and better each week on the MGMAT tests and felt great. By the end I was hitting mid-700s. However, I was never able to reach 700 on the GMATPrep software. But since I was doing so well with MGMAT, I was quite confident going into the test. On test day, I was more nervous than I had ever been before. I punched out the AWA and felt great so I just jumped right into the math. There were definitely some questions that I felt I should have been able to get, but I felt that way when I was doing the MGMAT tests and still did well, so I thought I was okay. Because the adrenalin was pumping, I still felt great after the math section - so I jumped into the verbals (mistake) and thought I was doing well (I wasn’t). Much to my dismay, out popped the 580 (Q42 V27). I was crushed. I was so crushed that I sought insight from this forum by posting my (short) story and plea for help here: http://www.beatthegmat.com/700s-in-practice-but-580-on-the-real-gmat-please-help-t49775.html

So, this is what happened since the 580.

I didn’t give up. I took one month off (January) and with the encouragement of some close friends, I determined that I was going to try again. Since I’m in management consulting and travel each week from home base to the client site (right now that’s NYC), I started to look at all the different test prep companies I could potentially use to help boost my score. After a lengthy evaluation process and I determined that private tutoring was the right fit for me. I called up Charles Biblios (yes, the GMAT Ninja) to see if he could meet me for lunch. I was impressed and convinced that he knew his stuff; we started two weeks later. I basically did everything and anything Charles told me to do. This time around, my study regime was completely different. I didn’t open an MGMAT book once. I did (re-did for the most part) all of the Official Guide questions for quants. For verbals (RC, CR), I was prescribed LSAT! Since verbal was obviously my weak point, I wanted to focus on my RC and CR skills (I thought I was good at SC). I’ll try to list out the things that I think made the difference this time around:

1. Charles Biblios. He was great. Super smart, a great teacher and an all around nice guy. Check out his website here: www.gmatninja.com. He was flexible even with my crazy work hours and travel schedule. I am 100% confident that I wouldn’t have been able to break 700 without his insight and homework regimen. All of his recommendations and prescribed homework was exactly what I needed. Thank you Charles!
2. LSAT Tests for my verbals. Charles had me write LSAT tests and we’d go over my results each week to try to find patterns or at least something that could point us in some better direction. Unfortunately I was rather random in my mistakes, but I definitely feel like going through the (harder) LSAT questions for both RC and CR was great for me. They challenged me. I think I eventually caught on to the nuances and traps for those types of questions. I also redid (or did for the first time) all of the SC question from the official guides, timed, etc. Charles helped tie up loose ends on the SC as well.
3. Test day routine. This was huge for me. I practiced with the GMATPrep exactly how I did it on test day - the breaks, the granola bar, the banana, the 5-hour energy drink and the jumping jacks (yes, I did jumping jacks at the test center!)
4. No MGMAT, no Kaplan, no Princeton Review (yes, I own all of these books, and they’re not all necessary bad, they’re just not for me apparently). The only resources I used were the official guides (the main one and the two smaller verbal/quant guides), LSAT Material (two books, both from the official LSAT people), Charles’ problem sets and Powerscore’s CR Bible
5. Math: Charles gave me some reeeally good insight on lots of different types of quant questions that helped me get my head around certain concepts. I could basically do most any question and get it right, but my way of doing it was usually the hard way. Charles’ methods changed that. He also gave me problem sets that he compiled/came up with - these were awesome. And having someone to explain my thought process to and then get their insight, or learn how they would do it, was invaluable. I was really happy with the 6 point quant jump.
6. Before I got 580, I thought that there was no value in redoing the GMATPrep tests after one try. I was wrong. Although your score is no longer a 100% true representation of your capabilities (it’s inflated), I still found those tests to be PERFECT for getting my test day routine down (TIMING) and for content. I was SHOCKED with how many new questions I kept seeing, it was great. I did both tests 3 times over a 6 week period. I ended up getting 720 and 730 on the 5th and 6th tests, evidently slightly inflated from my true score. But the types of questions were exactly the same as the real test. I find MGMAT’s math is good, but it focuses too much on stuff that’s not tested very much (again, just my experience).
7. I didn’t bother trying to memorize math rules or formulas this time. I only tried to understand how to do certain questions, without memorizing anything new. (you should have seen the number of flashcards I had memorized before my first attempt! I never looked at them before my second attempt)
8. I bought GMAT Focus this time, all 3 sets. I did one set per day on the three days before my tests. I thought these were amazing. They were tough(er) questions, but brand new (for the most part) and timed. I got 18/24, 22/24 and 20/24 on each of the tests, in that order. All of them giving me the 47-51 quant score interval with 99%+ likelihood (80% confidence internal). I thought they were perfect, for the days leading up to test day to keep me fresh on the quants.
9. I took 3 days off of work right before the test and wrote on a Saturday instead of a Friday this time. I think this was huge too. I wrote a GMAT Prep test and a GMAT Focus on both Wednesday and Thursday, a just a GMAT Focus on the Friday (no test). I was calm, relaxed and my brain wasn’t over-exhausted from work this time around.

So there it is. Hopefully some of this helps some of you. But, it’s finally done! If you have questions, I’ll try to answer. Now on to the apps!

Regards.

Thanked by: gmatninja, akondakar
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thephoenix Legendary Member
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Post Wed May 12, 2010 8:20 pm
congrates buddy on that awesome score!!!
cud u throw some insight on lsat material i.e from where we can get the right materia!!

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money9111 Legendary Member
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Post Wed May 12, 2010 8:28 pm
3. Test day routine. This was huge for me. I practiced with the GMATPrep exactly how I did it on test day - the breaks, the granola bar, the banana, the 5-hour energy drink and the jumping jacks (yes, I did jumping jacks at the test center!)

I did jumping jacks too!!!

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gmatninja Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Sun May 16, 2010 6:50 pm
Kiddles-- congratulations again, and thank you so much for the kind words on the forum! It's always an honor to see a deserving person succeed. (For those of you who don't know him, kiddles is a family man with an insanely demanding job, and he travels for work every single week. Can't even begin to describe how impressive it was to see him stick to a GMAT practice regimen.)

For thephoenix and anybody else who may be interested in LSAT materials, I highly recommend The Official LSAT SuperPrep, which has a great guide to CR and RC at the beginning of the book. The guide is written by the people who write the actual LSAT exam, and that gives you some invaluable insight into the minds of the writers. After finishing the three sample tests in the SuperPrep book, you can buy pretty much any official LSAT book (i.e. 10 Actual, Official LSAT PrepTests or The Next 10 Actual, Official LSAT PrepTests) if you need more practice.

LSAT books aren't too popular outside of the U.S., but my international students have managed to get them shipped from online booksellers without too much trouble.

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ashforgmat Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Sun May 16, 2010 8:19 pm
Congrats on your Wonderful score....please can you tell me precisely how much time is given between the 2 essays and between one essay and Quant and between Quant and Verbal sections...I am writing my GMAT tomorrow and cannot find this info on mba.com...


Thanks a lot,
Ash.

gmatninja Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Sun May 16, 2010 8:22 pm
At most testing centers, you get eight-minute breaks between sections. The length of breaks used to vary from country to country, but I think that it's the same all over the world now...

Good luck tomorrow!

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Mom4MBA Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts
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Post Tue May 18, 2010 7:51 am
Congratulations Kiddles that was a magnificent feat. Your story will be an inspiration for so many. Thanks for posting it. Best of luck for what ever you do.

I got 640(Q49/V27), was so disappointed, I did the same, concentrated so much on Math because I was enjoying doing it. Gave hardly any time to verbal, it scared me. Now I am working again. This time working more on Verbal but not leaving Math.

While giving GMAT I took just one break and finished my math in 1 hour, just rushed through it. I would have done better in Math had I managed my time well. Because I was so disappointed with my math I could not concentrate on my Verbal section, which was already weak.

For the first time test takers: stick to OGs.

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Stay focused



Last edited by Mom4MBA on Tue May 18, 2010 7:16 pm; edited 1 time in total

nifoui7 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Tue May 18, 2010 11:14 am
Congrats on your great improvement and thanks so much for this debrief!

I got a very disappointing 570 a month ago, while I knew I could have reached the 700 level, and this was all because of stress... horrible experience!

But reading your retake strategy and success gives me hope! Thanks!

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Wanna Get 710 :S

kiddles Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Tue May 18, 2010 7:16 pm
nifoui7 and others,

Thanks for the kind comments. I'm glad to hear that my (long) journey has helped motivate and possibly inspire fellow GMAT takers.

I did all of the Reading Comp and Critical Reasoning sections in the Official LSAT SuperPrep (got around 75% - 85% correct on each section) and did several sections from the "Next 10 Actual LSAT" book. These problems were definitely longer on average, but I think they helped me get used to the feel of 700+ GMAT verbal questions.

GMATNinja... thanks for answering some of these questions before I could get to them Smile

Thanks again. Cheers.

akondakar Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Wed May 19, 2010 6:07 am
Thank you for your post, it is really inspiring.

gorginger Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Sat Feb 12, 2011 12:59 pm
To the entire BTG community:

I don't want to make false accusations, but I believe everyone here should be wary of working with the "GMATNinja" until they get proof of that his references on this forum are indeed real and that he did indeed score a 780 on the GMAT. I am not trying to defame this person, but my experiences contacting and researching his background have made me HIGHLY suspicious that the people posting these "success stories" on BTG are not real people. Maybe I'm wrong (and I hope I am), but I think anyone about to shell out $150 should be alert to the very real possibility that this person is scamming them.



Last edited by gorginger on Fri Mar 04, 2011 8:36 am; edited 2 times in total

gmatninja Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Sat Feb 12, 2011 1:54 pm
Wow. I have no idea who "gorginger" is, but here are some honest facts about my tutoring practice:


1) All of the reviews about my services on BTG are 100% real, and I did not write or solicit any of them. After Hari posted some positive comments about me on BTG, students began to find me after reading his comments, and then chose to post a positive review when they were pleased with my services. Again, the reviews were their choice--not mine. I cannot control the fact that some of them have not been regular BTG contributors. And for what it's worth, I consciously post very sparingly on BTG, exactly because I don't want to be seen as using the site for personal gain.

2) I have never "promptly turned down" anybody who has ever asked me for references of any sort, and I have never been asked specifically for references from these success stories. Of course, all of these reviewers would be happy to serve as references, and I could easily connect a potential student with them... but nobody has ever asked!

3) I very rarely get asked for official score report, and I don't think that this "gorginger" ever did so. I went through my emails, and found only one person who has asked me for a score report in the past year... and I told her that I would be happy to show it to her. My 780 is real, and I have the reports to prove it.

4) Nobody has ever asked me for both an official score report and to identify the writers of my online reviews. I can't understand why somebody would make this up, but gorginger's story is, unfortunately, completely false.

5) I don't necessarily mind that somebody is posting negative things about me online--I'm not perfect, and not all of my students achieve their dreams. But unfortunately, "gorginger" seems to be inventing facts. If you're going to speak badly of me, please do so in an honest, well-informed way.


I pride myself on being brutally honest, both as a tutor and as a human being... and I could provide dozens of references from recent years who would enthusiastically endorse my character and my work. I don't make any guarantees or claims that I can't back up--there are no shams or scams here, just a guy trying to make an honest living as a tutor.

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kiddles Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Sun Feb 13, 2011 5:14 pm
In the spirit of honesty, which is really the subject of Gorginer's post, I must admit that when I read his/her post I was absolutely livid--I have since calmed down though but feel that I need to respond to these claims since this is MY success story which gorginger is claiming to be a sham AND because Ninja is one of the most honest guys I've ever met and is now a good friend.

Gorginger's first argument hinges on the fact that he/she thinks its 'suspicious' that I (and others) have only posted to the BTG Forum a few times (in my case, 6). Are you kidding me? So because I posted 6 times, my story is likely a sham? I can only speak for myself here, but for me, I just simply didn't feel the need to post a lot on this forum in my study process. Some people think that posting a lot helps in their own progress--for me, I didn't think it was the best use of my time. However, what I DID find super helpful from this forum were the detailed success stories and reading how people achieved their target GMAT score (I stated that this was my reason for even posting to this forum in the first place in the first paragraph of my original post).

Gorginger's second argument is about Ninja's official GMAT score report. When I first met Ninja in person in NYC almost a year ago now, I had no question that this guy knew his stuff inside and out. I personally never asked to see his score report (I'm more inclined to trust people after I've met them)--but I know he would have no problem showing it to someone if the person was actually interested in getting help from him. As Ninja has already stated, he has no problem providing this. So this is a non-issue.

Also--as Ninja stated, I posted my story without him even knowing... it was completely unsolicited. I simply wanted other people to learn from my story since I had learned from the other success stories posted on BTG. I spoke to every large GMAT consultancy and several small shops and independent consultants before selecting Ninja. He is simply just that good--and since he helped me in my process, I wanted others to know about it.

Another beauty-of-a-line from Gorginger: "I also think it's worth pointing everyone's attention to the fact that the only legitimate success story here is from HariMBA, whose score actually did not increase!". Oh really??? Well I'm living proof that this statement utterly false. Ninja--if this Gorginer person gives you his/her contact info--I'd be more than willing to call him/her directly to help settle these ridiculous claims about you.

I can also attest to Ninja's "brutal honesty" and that he doesn't make promises he can't keep. Several times I asked him (while at his apt.) whether or not he thought I would get a 700+ (given my performance from the HW that he gave me the previous week)--but he wouldn't promise a 700+ score. From the very beginning he said that he couldn't promise me a 700+ score and that it would depend on me. The point is that he doesn't promise anything unless he's 100% sure he can deliver it--which I really respected. So the fact that Gorginer is claiming that Ninja is lying to everyone for monetary gain is completely outrageous to me because I've come to know him well and know that lying and deception is just simply not in his character. Ninja also just invited me recently to meet up with several of his other students who he taught... and I also met a few of them as I was coming into an appointment with him or as I was leaving (and the next student was coming in).

Bottom line - Gorginers claims are completely false and I'd be more than happy to speak with anyone live on Ninja's behalf--normally I wouldn't do this just for a tutor, but he took a vested interest in my application process and has become a good friend in the process. Ninja - please feel free to pass on anyone's contact info that wants to speak with me and I'll call them directly.

BTW--I'm heading to a top 3 (H/S/W) school this fall with a scholarship--thanks again Ninja.

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