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Never Again! :)

This topic has 3 expert replies and 9 member replies
show me how to live Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
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Never Again! :)

Post Sun Jan 22, 2012 11:50 am
760 (50Q,42V)

I would like to begin with a big thank you to beatthegmat and those who respond to it.

At the outset, I would like to state these views are my own and may not work for everyone. I think they are most suitable for someone who is in the 680-720 range but feel free to read (I took a really long time to type this!!!!), who knows what you may find useful.

My story was a bit different- my prep started off really well, my friends had done well on the test so I thought I would do to. A few weeks into OG (12th Guide) and I got a 760 in my first mock from the CD, thought all was well and decided to switch back to CFA L1 study (That was on Dec 3).

A week before CFA I had taken some time off from work to study (ostensibly for the CFA, ), which is when I gave some Kaplan mocks. 610, 640, 610....thought something must be wrong with the scoring, so gave the 2nd Official Mock, got a 690......

What was going on??? That was 2 days before the CFA and 8 days before the GMAT. I realised (almost too late)I had some serious problems.

Without getting too preachy, I would list some of the things which helped me get on the right path and I hope can help some readers-

1) Don't be overconfident- Yes, I was. Most people would not be so, but I let that first mock lull me into a sense of certainty. Which leads me to my next point.

2) Take mock scores with a pinch of salt- Ok, I really don't know what was wrong with Kaplan, my highest was 640 on those and I ended up with a 760 on the real thing. My Manhattan scores were around the 720 mark, good but not outstanding. However, my greatest learnings from these tests was observing that I was getting far too many questions wrong on an absolute basis and also getting them wrong together in a bunch. Diagnosis- Concepts weak in certain areas, awful time management

3) Know the basics of the test - At this point, you must think I am really stupid. But till 8 days before the test, I didn't know how the scoring system worked- most importantly the high penalty for getting a string of questions wrong and how key time management was.

Some articles I found really useful were -

a) Manoj's initial post- set the stage really, mentioned its not necessarily raw genius but also hard work which can get you in the 760 zone. The GMAT can be tamed. You just have to be smart about it (I wasn't initially). Reassuring.

b) Know thyself, but know thy enemy as well-

http://www.manhattangmat.com/gmat-uncovered.cfm

c) Time Management-

http://www.manhattangmat.com/articles/keeping-pace.cfm

Trawl through the Manhattan website, some very useful articles throughout.

4) Go Manhattan!
I found their material to be really good. Each of the books really emphasizes the concepts, this should be your first port of call. Both for Math and Verbal, I think it was excellent.
I was doing well in Math on my mocks, but did most of the Math anyway (focused on troubling areas), found my time management improve a lot and just finished questions a lot quicker, so while my score stayed at 50 throughout, I was more IN CONTROL - critical.

Verbal was giving me a rough time, the sentence correction book is great but contains tons of rules, which freaked me out with such little time left. So I had to use it selectively, to address the types of SC problems I was getting wrong completely. But it is good, and if you can invest time from Day 1, it should be helpful. CR and RC- explains some basics, nothing groundbreaking, but found it useful in parts. I mean really the most important thing to remember is to pay attention and READ THE QUESTION, thats all I used to tell myself. As I said, you don't have to be a genius for the test but you HAVE to be alert.

Not sure if the authors will be too happy with me here, but Kaplan really didnt live up to expectations after the good things I had heard. The practice sets were quite random in terms of difficulty and overall I think its too easy. Some of the strats are good, but I think time is better spent on Manhattan throughout. Use Kaplan as an additional question bank if you want to test a strategy or something.

5) Some more on Time Management -
This is what I suggest,
a) In the beginning, do the Manhattan books really well and get your concepts solid. Yes , they don’t have too many practice questions but just try and master what they have, there is plenty of time to practice don’t worry. The important thing is to understand why something is right/ wrong, see the common mistakes etc.

b) Once you think you have done justice to Manhattan, move on to OG. Do at least 40 questions of each topic (DS, PS, CR, RC, SC), slowly and try your best to get them right. Really study the ones you get wrong and go back to Manhattan if necessary. Aim for high accuracy levels (remember the supposedly easier ones are in the beginning). (I used to hit 80-95% by the middle of my prep).

c) Once you are happy with that, its time to bring out the stopwatch. Please remember, it is best to understand the concepts very well before Step 3, because getting a whole bunch of questions wrong is not a good feeling. But also know this, there must come a time when the stopwatch is integral to your study. The timing article above provides full details, try and follow that. For example, I used to choose 15 questions of say CR, give myself 30 mins and make sure they are done by then. Later on, I would choose my target time for SC and RC questions, then do them one after the other with no breaks, around 1 -1.5 hour sessions at a stretch. Not meant to be a substitute to the actual Verbal section, but does aim to simulate switching from question type to another and being able to concentrate on those questions for 1 hour +. Make sure you get a high accuracy rate.

d) Give a mock or two, see weak spots and fine tune. Seeing what you do wrong is very important, you will keep doing it otherwise.

6) Ask for help- I signed for private tutoring from Manhattan. I figured I was getting the same things wrong again and again so something needed to change. Sometimes just discussing strategy or getting persistent doubts solved can prove very useful. Otherwise the tutors can provide guidance on a personalised and individual basis. They are very expensive no doubt (450 USD for 2 hours) but I am glad I took a couple of classes, just get the problems out of the way and refine your prep.

7) Don't mix too much up - I had a full time job (in investment banking, no prizes for guessing why I gave the GMAT), CFA Level 1 and the GMAT. I managed all 3 but it wasn't pretty. If you have a choice, try your best to focus on the GMAT and as little else as possible - it really helps.

8) Be brave- I rescheduled my GMAT by 2 weeks to get 2 additional weekends as it was too close to the CFA (I only had 1 weekend to study after realising my stupidity, and weekends were the only time to actually get work done). I didn't know anyone who took a tutor and was aghast at the cost, yet I went ahead (my tutor from Manhattan was very sweet and supportive, I am not sure if I am allowed to mention names). Both were very good decisions in hindsight. I knew I wasn't prepared as well as I could have been. Everything above helped me. I gave the OG mocks again (very few repeat questions), and got a 750 in both so I felt much more confident and could see my weak areas had been addressed fairly effectively. By the end of it, I WANTED to give the real thing.

The discerning (dare I say ‘critical’) reader will notice the above points are not necessarily in logical order. They are more a string of observations in the order of which I observed them. Please use the above info to create your own plan.
I really don’t have a career plan at the moment, temporarily at the mercy of ‘esteemed European ministers’ (permanently so before the GMAT…). Fingers crossed, doing well on the GMAT feels good, but does B-School really make sense in this climate? I don’t want a ton of debt and a poor job after…Also on another note, I am not sure what I want to do in my career, switching jobs is difficult at the moment, any advice on how better to answer the following questions- what am I good at, and what would I enjoy doing? Can an MBA ever help answer these questions (I assumed practical work ex is the only way, but am happy to hear ideas)?
Hopefully I never give the GMAT again (assuming I don’t bomb AWA), but
Good luck ladies and gentlemen!

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Post Mon Jan 23, 2012 9:37 am
Congratulations! That is awesome!

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Post Mon Jan 23, 2012 12:37 pm
Congrats! Love the note about the finance ministers... Definitely have quite a few friends whose jobs are also on the line based on this one, sadly! I've also seen more than a few offers rescinded.

I think an MBA in this climate makes sense if you know what you want to do with it after you graduate... which you don't, unfortunately... I'm guessing you could go back to IB or move to the buy side. I'm sure it won't be a stroll in the park in this economy, but if you go for a top school recruiting will always be decent. Making a career switch depends on where your passion lies and I def understand that working an IB job does not allow for too much time to cultivate a passion, but hey, you need to have something in your background that pushes you one way or the other! Good luck!

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Post Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:58 am
As DanaJ had pointed out, first you'll want to figure out what you want to do with an MBA. Otherwise your essays will not come through as convincing to the adcoms.

But instead of going for your passion, here's an alternative approach which I think make much more sense:

-http://calnewport.com/blog/2011/08/13/dont-quit-your-day-job-transform-it-why-following-your-passion-is-the-wrong-way-to-find-occupational-happiness/#more-1510

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Post Tue Jan 24, 2012 11:48 am
Kudos....so what's your profile and what schools are you aiming at?

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Post Tue Jan 24, 2012 11:39 pm
OP -- is your username an Audioslave reference? if so, you have good taste in music.

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Post Thu Jan 26, 2012 5:30 am
good caliber managers do not have to graduate from the elite business school(s), though they can

shrewd business thinking is not supposed to be objective of MBA courses, though they prompt

nice career is not exactly that offered by MBA top recruiters at the campus job fairs, though this happens

It will be you and only you who is to make decision about your life and career. Workaholic people who devote most of their time alive to their jobs, do this for one simple reason - they found passionate jobs. Once you find a job with which your passion will lie, you should become workaholic.

Think twice. Do you really need to find a job with which your passion lies?

I noticed most of the prep materials you were using in preparing for GMAT were MGMAT guides, and I have been using these guides as well. You had a good learning experience before taking GMAT. To confess, your post was culminating my expectations of the "reader"
show me how to live wrote:
The discerning (dare I say ‘critical’) reader will notice the above points are not necessarily in logical order. They are more a string of observations in the order of which I observed them. Please use the above info to create your own plan.
here
Quote:
...I was more IN CONTROL - critical.
...
Care to apply the last notion to your career and life in general? Be "IN CONTROL", as life isn't fun.

As for potential debt burden and poor job - many schools offer scholarships. Try getting some award, if you can do so. Agree, paying your moneys to banks after you graduate sucks. Practically, if you get loan financed, then it's the straight 8-year debt repayment period (most covenants allow up to 25-year repayment period), if not longer.

You have managed the first level CFA, now GMAT and still employed; just finish what you were doing recently - apply to business school(s).

If you feel your actions are desultory and/or you need more challenge in your life - GET married.

gl and hope to read your admission post sometime.

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Post Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:26 pm
pemdas wrote:
If you feel your actions are desultory and/or you need more challenge in your life - GET married.
ok, i'm curious about what you mean here.
is this an admonition against marriage? or some kind of statement that marriage will somehow “focus” people? or just a humorous comment?
i can't tell.

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Post Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:27 am
Ron, because I've received 1 pm from a friend and you've asked me too, the clarification follows underneath
>> It's my opinion that marriage helps majority of responsible people in matrimony to stay focused on *main* things in their lives. As marriage is planned by almost everyone to happen - frankly, I know only men who plan to get married or who have already got married, and do not know men who would never plan to marry some one (without qualification of sex Wink ), people would ultimately change their life habits and career perspectives after they are placed in matrimony. My advice to the originator of this thread was straightforward and introduced one alternative - to get married for being better focused on his future plans.

c-ed, but I agree that such things as marriage and love are difficult to plan; they represent some sort of incidental happenings mostly with a few social circumstances. Then you can refer to the quoted statement as just a humorous comment.

cheers,
pemdas

lunarpower wrote:
pemdas wrote:
If you feel your actions are desultory and/or you need more challenge in your life - GET married.
ok, i'm curious about what you mean here.
is this an admonition against marriage? or some kind of statement that marriage will somehow “focus” people? or just a humorous comment?
i can't tell.

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Post Tue Feb 07, 2012 3:52 pm
Congratulations on this fantastic GMAT performance, pemdas! And thank you for sharing your story with us.

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Post Tue Feb 07, 2012 4:19 pm
myEssayReview wrote:
Congratulations on this fantastic GMAT performance, pemdas! And thank you for sharing your story with us.
??

didn't get you -are you pointing to the last comment? I'm still prepping for GMAT

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Post Tue Feb 07, 2012 4:30 pm
Oops sorry, I actually meant to direct that message to the original poster. Cheers!

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Post Sun Aug 14, 2016 1:26 am
lunarpower wrote:
OP -- is your username an Audioslave reference? if so, you have good taste in music.
Yes, that is one of my favourite tracks. Unfortunately I am not much closer to figuring out the "optimum" way to live just yet! Smile

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