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## I think I just beat the GMAT 760, Q50, V44, AWA = 6.0

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hungrykid Just gettin' started!
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I think I just beat the GMAT 760, Q50, V44, AWA = 6.0 Wed Jul 13, 2011 11:54 am
I had been a silent reader of this forum three weeks prior to my test date. This forum has helped me immensely in fine tuning my GMAT score and jump-starting my preparation two weeks prior to the exam. I owe a big thanks to the community and wanted to share my story. This is going to be a long story, but I hope it helps! Also, I didn’t really have a study plan and was very haphazard in the way I approached my preparation for the test so I not writing about my ‘study plan’ but I would be happy to share some details.

Test Day Experience:

Used the restroom, had few sips of iced tea (I had prepared it myself with just the right amount of caffeine and honey), stretched my body outside the restroom and did few breathing exercises (thanks to the tip from another reader of this forum). I was ready to start the quant section! First few questions were very simple and I spent extra time trying to double-check some answers to ensure that I make no mistake at all. Then few tough questions started appearing by the 10th Q - still nowhere close to how tough Manhattan GMAT Practice tests get. I was getting a bit worried by that. Trying not to extrapolate or think too much of it, I breezed through most of the section until Q32. I had about 20 minutes left for the 9 questions (my best status so far) and I was pretty excited by the hope of finishing in time. I had usually struggled with last 2-3 questions in Quant section due to running out of time. That's when the questions became pretty difficult, every single question was taking 3+ minute for me to solve and most of them revolved around absolute inequalities, number properties and probability theory. I thought I must be doing pretty good; I tried to give enough time to every question, but I had to outrightly guess on Q40 to be able to answer Q41. Regardless, I was pretty happy with quant and was confident that the hardest part of the test is over. I raised my hand for another break.
After few stretching exercises, a bit of protein bar and strawberries, I was ready to start the verbal section. Most of the sentence corrections in the beginning did not stumble me as much and few CRs and the first RC seemed fairly simple. Then by Q10 - I started getting boldface questions which I took as an indication of me doing pretty well. By Q15-16, I started struggling with my focus and had to read some CR questions 2-3 times just to make some sense of it. I was so sleepy that I could barely keep my eyes open and had to keep telling myself to stay awake for just ½ more hour. I believe my performance went downhill a bit towards the trail end of the test but I regained my composure by Q35 - I absolutely had to get the last few questions right. I never struggled with time in verbal and finished the section with 2 minutes remaining - this is after spending 2 plus minutes on average on last 10 questions.
With this out of the way, I happily clicked through the next few screens and was expecting a score in the range of 760-780 and I wasn’t disappointed. I think I could have managed to get 770 or maybe 780 if I had stayed focused on verbal, I have received 46 verbal scores during practice tests - but then I have no complaints whatsoever for getting 760.

My background:
I have a Masters degree in Engineering from one of the Top 3 schools in the world. Since graduating in 2007, I have been working in Consulting industry and never really went back to even simple mathematics (excel does the trick for me). I am not a native English speaker but I read a lot (every single day!) and also write occasionally, so I wasn’t too worried about the RC or CR section in Verbal. However, I knew that SC would be a big challenge for me.

Practice Tests Scores (I have provided scaled score of each section for some tests):
Kaplan Diagnostic: 650
GMAT Prep 1: 710
Kaplan 1: 710
Kaplan 2: 730, Q47, V43
Kaplan 3: 780, Q54, V53 (This test screwed up my preparation and delayed my test date by at least a month. I became too over-confident way early in my preparation knowing that Kaplan tests are super tough. I strongly believe that Kaplan algorithm goofed up my score on this one)
Princeton Review Free test: 730, Q51, V41
GMAT Prep 1 (Retake): 730
MGMAT 1: 710, Q42, V45 (Couldn’t finish the quant section in time, left about 8 questions unanswered. I still hadn’t gotten used to of the idea of letting go of some hard questions.)
MGMAT 2: 730, Q49, V41
800 Test taker MATH Free test: Q49
GMATPrep 2 : 760, Q50, V42
MGMAT 3: 770, Q50, V45 (my last test exactly a week before my test date)
3 Most Important Things that contributed to my score
- MGMAT practice tests.
o I didn’t create my profile on MGMAT.com until almost 3 weeks prior to my test date even though I had the free access to 6 practice tests. However, I managed to take 3 practice tests and take my word for it; if you are striving for a good score and banking upon your quant prowess, then you need to take as many MGMAT practice tests as possible. Their quant section is harder than you would see in the actual test; but the explanations to each question ARE WONDERFUL and INSIGHTFUL. I went from somebody who struggled with finishing the section in time to somebody who was very confident with quant section and this is just after taking 3 online practice tests. I became confident that I would be able to solve most of the hardest problems that GMAT could throw at me. Another thing that I loved about these tests was the summary report of your test performance - it would explain your percentile (as per their algorithm) question by question and this really helped me understand how I perform during every minute of the test , where do I falter, which questions decrease my percentile more and so on. I understood how the algorithm works in general and this was an important understanding. I do not think there is any better resource out there when it comes to practice tests and providing detailed and useful explanations to each problem. If I had not taken these tests just couple of weeks before my test date, I may have moved my test date to 3-4 weeks in future as I was still stuck at scoring 720-730.
- Practice:
o I realized that I am not a very organized student who would meticulously go about understanding each type of question that I am getting wrong and then go back to the theory to nail it down. I knew that I only learn by practicing and once I get a problem wrong 3 times, I would know what to do the 4th time. This especially holds true for Sentence Correction. I had bought MGMAT SC book; which is considered by most the holy grail of SC, but I just couldn’t read all that theory and everytime I tried to read that book, I fell asleep. That is not to say that the book isn’t great, it just doesn’t work for me. What worked for me was SC practice problems and their explanations both in Kaplan Practice tests and Manhattan Practice tests. Most people also recommend to not take a lot of practice tests, but exactly opposite of it contributed to my high score. I was stuck at 710-730 score and I moved to 760-770 within weeks simply by taking as many tests I could; I did not go back to theory. My theory of Quant was very sound, I was just lacking the practice.

o I ensured that every single question I got wrong in my practice tests (for quant), I understood its explanation in detail. You need to first understand and learn what you did wrong, and then second, apply it when a similar question comes along. I usually don’t make flash cards, but I did make flash cards to write small things that I was getting wrong in the quant section. For example: ‘Read the question stem, pay attention if the question mentions ‘distinct integers’ instead of ‘integers’. These little things make a lot of difference, especially when you start moving towards higher score, as the questions keep getting trickier and you need to NOT fall in those traps.

Dos
•First thing to do before you really set a score target for yourself is to COMMIT. Commit yourself to GMAT, to getting to a B- school and realize that you would need to make some sacrifices along the way. It’s not an easy ride, especially if you have been out of the school and your work doesn’t require a lot of quantitative analysis. I didn’t go out with my colleagues for dinner in the month prior to my test; ordered room service or did a ‘to go’ even though the food wasn’t too good and I am a foodie! I skipped going to ‘team parties’ at bars, I stopped drinking even a glass of wine with dinner. I had less than 3 hours of personal time on a weekday due to my travel and work schedule and either I could spend that time going to the gym and eating dinner with colleagues or eating in my hotel room and studying a bit. It’s your choice and only this choice stands between you and a good score.
•Be very honest and humble in judging your progress and preparation level. Don’t become too over-confident if you do well once in a while (like I did with my 780 score in a Kaplan test). Knowing exactly where you stand is the only way to get to where you want to go eventually. You can’t get to C thinking you are at B while you are actually standing at A!
•Keep a healthy body and healthy mind. Eat healthy. Try to get to a healthy lifestyle. Get enough sleep. GMAT questions require utmost concentration and a sound mind resides in a sound body.
•Subscribe to some GMAT forum (like this one!) and read posts regularly. You not only learn some new tricks and gain insight into how to crack GMAT, but also you breathe in the infectious enthusiasm of others who are in the same boat as you and it keeps you going. You need as much support as you can get, and these forums are one of the best ways to get that support. I subscribed just 3 weeks prior to my test date and I cannot tell you how much it changed my performance. I am so glad I did.
•Keep track of every question that you got wrong while doing all practice sets from all books. In last two weeks of your study, it is essential to go back to each of these questions and re-do them and see if you can answer them correctly now. If not, read the explanation, understand the theory behind it. If you know each of these questions inside out, nothing else stands between you and a high score.
•As everyone else has said this before, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. GMAT is not a monster; even if it were one, you can kill it just by practicing.
Donts
•Never give a half-assed performance. Do not study if you are not in a mood of studying. Go watch TV, watch a game, go out with your friends, do whatever it takes to ultimately get into the mood of studying. You cannot beat GMAT if you do not FOCUS and your mind is somewhere else.
•Do not adapt to somebody else’s study plan and approach without understanding your strengths and weaknesses. It may have worked for them; but may not for you. There is a plethora of resources and forums for cracking GMAT and each one would have its own recommendations. Educate yourself about the strategy and resources and then make your own study plan.
•Do not obsess about your practice test scores. Those tests are only for practice and each one has its own algorithm which may or may not be the right reflection of your actual score. Do not fret over the results or get discouraged by low scores. Key is to get as comfortable as possible with writing a 4 hour exam and keeping the concentration intact. Use these practice tests to learn to attempt each question, to not get stuck at one difficult question and jeopardize your entire score, get accustomed to various types of questions and then read detailed explanations of each question and understand how you could have solved it faster and which questions cost you more than others. Identify your weaknesses and strengths. ONLY use GMAT Prep tests as a gauge of your ability.

Week prior to the exam :
My exam was on a Saturday and my strategy was to write GMAT Prep 2 on Friday of the previous week and based upon the score determine if I need to move my test date. I scored a 760 and I felt fairly comfortable while writing the test and decided to go along with it. On Saturday, a week prior to the test, I wrote another full length practice test from MGMAT and scored a 770. I spent all Sunday reviewing the test results, explanations and understanding my mistakes and packed for my 16 hr round trip travel back to the west coast. I didn’t have much time on Monday and I didn’t do much except review some of my flash cards for SC and try to etch those in my mind. I had about an hour or two on Tuesday and I spent those solving Sentence Correction Question bank of MGMAT. That 25 question bank really helped me figure out typical SC traps that I fall into and I made some more notes and flash cards for review. I really recommend that question bank to anyone who is struggling with SC - it contains just 25 questions but each one of those questions tests every single concept that appears in SC section and if you can master these 25 questions inside out, you would be all set for SC. I spent couple of hours on Wednesday reviewing all of the quant questions I had gotten wrong in my previous practice tests of Kaplan and GMAT and solved each one of those. I travelled back home on Thursday night and spent couple of hours just reading through the Essay templates for AWA section - first time I ever looked at a template and tried to get comfortable using some of the key words. I took it easy on Friday - a day before the exam and spent about three hours going through SC and Quant questions that I had gotten wrong while going through Kaplan and OG guides. I watched a movie, got directions of the test center, packed some fruits and drinks as snacks during the test and was all ready to crack the GMAT!

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Frankenstein GMAT Titan
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Wed Jul 13, 2011 12:14 pm
Hi,

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prodizy Really wants to Beat The GMAT!
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Wed Jul 13, 2011 12:20 pm
well written advise. Thanks. Congrats for the great score

Nelsonjp86 Just gettin' started!
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Wed Jul 20, 2011 12:08 pm
Awesome Debrief!! Good luck with your applications!!..

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XLogic Really wants to Beat The GMAT!
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Wed Jul 20, 2011 12:14 pm
You are quite thorough. Great job.

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edward.feng Just gettin' started!
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Wed Jul 20, 2011 6:08 pm
Congrats on the great score and thanks for the thorough debrief.

I thought getting a Q50 and V44 was enough to get a 770. Are there ranges within the raw scores?

vivrash Just gettin' started!
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Thu Jul 21, 2011 4:45 am
hi,
Congrats to you on scoring such a fantastic score.
I too am preparing for the GMAT and aim to give it in Sep. I was wondering if you could help me with this query-
I need some online GMAT simulators and practice tests which will help me evaluate myself. I want to know how much time am i taking in each category so i know where to focus.

Do you know something of that sort?

Thanks

mg2011 Just gettin' started!
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Thu Jul 21, 2011 6:11 am
Thank you so much for the advice. Do you mind telling us where you found the six free MGMAT practice tests?

hungrykid Just gettin' started!
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Wed Jul 27, 2011 6:30 pm
If you buy any of the MGMAT books (I bought Sentence correction guide for about \$28), you will get access to their SC question bank and 6 free MGMAT online CAT practice tests which in my opinion were a critical element in my GMAT success.

hungrykid Just gettin' started!
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Wed Jul 27, 2011 6:37 pm
@Edward - Even I thought so and was a little disappointed with 760. There certainly are ranges of GMAT score as I have seen people get a 770 with both Q50, V44 and Q50, V76. In the end, when two candidates are compared with GMAT scores of 760 and 770, other factors take front seat and GMAT score kind of becomes irrelevant.

dellaboemia Just gettin' started!
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Thu Feb 23, 2012 2:01 pm
Fantastic post and very encouraging. I'm currently in the practice test phase of my preparation and having a particularly dissappointing day, as I bailed out of the KAPLAN CAT 1 with 8 quant questions and 8 minutes remaining. My mind just wasn't in it today.

Your post was a reminder to stay humble, stay focused, and stay with it. I'll give it another shot tommorow, after a good meal and a good nights rest.

Congrats on your score and thanks for the share!

-D

manu.sharma Just gettin' started!
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Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:07 pm
Congratulations on your score and thanks for the TIP. I will appreciate you if you further assist us all on this forum by sharing the 25 questions (Sentence Correction) you were referring to.

Thanks!

antols Just gettin' started!
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Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:43 pm
First of all congratulations on your great score. I'm also quite surprised that you "only" got a 760 with a Q50 and V44 since I scored a 750 with a Q50 V40. Anyway, I would like to say two things:

The first one is that I completely agree with the advice you gave in your main post. Doing practice tests is essential to getting a good score, especially MGMAT tests. Manhattan questions are a lot harder than the questions you will face doing the official GMAT, so if you manage to finish the quantitative/verbal sections in your MGMAT practice test, you will definitely be able to finish it during the real GMAT. I also agree that the best way to improve is by reviewing your mistakes after every test. After 3-4 practice tests, you'll start noticing that those probability problems that were given you a hard time during your first run, will now take you less than a minute and a half. Remember, practice makes perfect!

My preparation for the GMAT was a little different than yours. I started practicing with the Official GMAT Guide Book. During two weeks, I did the 800+ practice problems contained in the book. That practice got me familiarized with the questions I may encounter during actual tests. It also helped me pin point what my weak areas were. After I finished with the book, I started looking for help online. Luckily, I stumbled into this site, which helped me improve my sentence correction abilities (my weakest section) tremendously. The flashcards made by Papgust (member of this site) are amazing and helped me a lot. Once I was done "studying" for the test, it was time to get some practice in. During a two week span, I did four practice tests. The results I got were the following:

GMAT Prep 1: 710
Manhattan Test 1: 710
Manhattan Test 2: 720
GMAT Prep 2: 750

I have to give credit for the 40 point increase in my score to this site and the difficulty level of the Manhattan GMAT questions. Once you get used to those questions, the real ones certainly seemed a whole lot easier. It took me 5 weeks total to prepare for this exam. Now I'm not sure if I should have dedicated a couple extra weeks to doing some more practice tests, I may have been able to pull of a score higher than 750. I must admit, it certainly hurt not getting into the 99 percentile.

Having said all that, I have several questions:

1. How much will it hurt my chances to get into a good school that I didn't manage to get into the 99 percentile? Is a score of 750 good enough to apply to MIT/Harvard/Columbia? Is it worth it retaking the test in order to improve my score?

2. How relevant is the AWA score? Since I did my exam yesterday, I still don't have my official score, but I wouldn't count on me getting more than a 5. I really didn't practice writing essays and I struggled a lot with the analysis of an issue portion yesterday. As many of you may have noticed, English is not my first language (I'm actually from Colombia), and prior to taking the GMAT I had not written any English essays in the past five years, so I'm still a little rusty. My score is bound to reflect that.

Well thanks for everything Beat the GMAT community! Oh and I'm sorry for barging into your post like this hungrykid.

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Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:55 pm
Hey!
Congrats on your awesome score and thanks for posting you story!
Can you please tell me where on MGMAT they have 25 SC Q bank?
I couldnt find it on their website...

Thanks!

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Thu Mar 01, 2012 9:04 am
Congrats! Awesome that you got what you were looking for!

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