2 year journey to 710 (46Q 41V)

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2 year journey to 710 (46Q 41V)

by mattrh » Sat Aug 12, 2017 5:29 pm
Key Takeaways:

1) If I can do it, you can do it. My quant score started out in the 20s (yes, it is possible to score in the 20s) and I was able to work it up to a 46. For me, it was just like running my first marathon. At first it seems insane, and then bit by bit, you build up your confidence by gaining stamina through longer distances, and then before you know it, BAM! You've run 26.2 miles. Also, don't get disillusioned by the folks who can casually study for a couple weeks and get a 700+ (I have a few friends like that). In my opinion, those of us who have to WORK for our GMAT will not only appreciate our business school experience that much more, but will be better prepared to deal with the seemingly insurmountable issues we will have to tackle someday.

2) If you struggle with quant, Target Test Prep is a sure fire solution. I can't stress enough how effective TTP was for me. I tried everyone and everything and TTP was the only consistently beneficial program in improving my quant (along with the OG and some old fashioned elbow grease). 710 (46Q) was good enough for me but I'm confident that given more time, I would have been able to boost my quant even higher with TTP. Manhattan SC/ CR books+OG worked well to boost verbal but it was already my strong suit and 99% intuitive.

3) Set aside 2-3+ months to focus on and attack the GMAT. If you don't succeed on your first attempt, maintain the same discipline (focus, set aside time, take the test) or move on and restart the process later. DO NOT half ass study in between attempts and expect to see results. I attempted to do this many, many times (sometimes out of necessity due to work requirements) and my GMAT journey spanned the course of YEARS.

I'm an Army officer and was a political science major as an undergrad-I've always known that I'm much weaker in quant than verbal so as I approached my GMAT prep, I knew I was going to need to focus particularly on quant/ IR. After taking a slew of practice tests (Official GMAT w/ exam pack 1/ Manhattan GMAT), I confirmed my bias- I would consistently score above a 38 in verbal and below a 42 in quant. Almost every prep program you encounter will include both quant and verbal, which is good if you're just familiarizing yourself with the test, but frustrating if you're like me and have pre-identified that you don't need to focus on verbal. Target Test Prep was my answer to a quant specific program that gave me exactly what I needed- nothing more, nothing less.

I initially stumbled across Target Test Prep a couple of years ago in early 2015 and worked with Jeff for a few sessions. The tutoring was great but being active duty military, my schedule wasn't regular at the time and I felt like I wasn't able to personally contribute what I needed to in order to get the best bang for my buck. I recognized very early though that the program/ curriculum itself was top notch, comprehensive, and extremely well organized, so I kept paying month to month to study as my schedule allowed (over the course of a year...).

Last spring I was able to take an in person course with Princeton Review (the only one available in my area), while continuing to use Target Test Prep to focus on specific math concepts. After the PR course I was able to score a 680 (42Q 41V...IR2...). Feeling close to my 700+ goal yet so far, and with a year left until I was planning to start applying, I decided to hunker down and keep trying to boost my score. Without going into too much detail, I cancelled my TTP subscription and decided to test other avenues of GMAT prep. I ended up wasting a lot of time and money, bounced around between Princeton Review & Manhattan materials, and tried 2 different subscriptions with Magoosh and empowerGMAT (I would recommend either of them if you need full spectrum quant/ verbal practice, but not if you want to focus on quant). In this period of frazzled, erratic studying I took the GMAT two more times with painfully frustrating, inexplicable results: 610 and 660. Needless to say I was beyond frustrated and honestly wanted to quit altogether and apply with my 680 (which wouldn't have been that bad). I also switched to the GRE and focused solely on GRE prep for a few attempts which yielded me painfully similar results- mediocre quant, stellar verbal (highest score was 158Q/165V).

A couple months ago, I realized that my final countdown had begun- 2 months to go before I needed to accept my final GRE/GMAT and move on with applications. Reflecting on what the difference had been between when I was able to score a 680 and when I scored a 610/ 660 I quickly realized that the dip in my score was when I had cancelled my TTP and was attempting to study quant in 10 different ways vs my 680 when I was drilling with TTP every day. After that realization, it was a no brainer to re-purchase the month to month TTP flex plan for my last month of studying and put in my best effort one last time. The hardest part was overcoming my apathy and lack of self-confidence after not seeing any consistent improvements over the course of years. I ate my pride though, sucked it up, and gave it one last go.

Along with drilling problems from the OG16, I focused on my weak areas with TTP chapter tests and made my own TTP custom tests based on my recurring errors and knowledge gaps. I typically was able to study at least one uninterrupted hour a night and then at times I was able to do 5-10 problem quizzes intermittently at work. I honestly didn't feel like I was making any progress and didn't see much improvement in my quiz scores, but pushed through and told myself it was all helping in some way. I was right- I took the GMAT on Monday for the last time and scored a 710 (Q46!!!!V41 IR7). I was shooting for a 45+ in quant but never thought in a million years that I'd actually achieve it. Thanks to the clean, engaging product TTP has put together, I was able to boost my quant score well beyond my expectations.

It's hard for me to put into words how much of a pain the GMAT was for me, especially after attacking it in so many different ways for so long, and still feeling completely helpless. I know that everyone has their own path to success, and honestly I think most programs are good and will be beneficial in some way, but if you want the best bang for your buck in Quant prep, Target Test Prep has no rival. They're truly in a league of their own and will boost your quant as long as you put in the requisite work, believe in yourself, and stay hungry until you hit your target score.

Anyone can beat the GMAT, more than anything it's a test of willpower and work ethic.