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Podium Finish on the GMAT with a 740(V-40,Q-50)

Find out how Beat The GMAT members tackled GMAT test prep with positive results. Get tips on GMAT test prep materials, online courses, study tips, and more.
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The day that I had fantasied about for long is finally here. I may not have won a gold medal on the GMAT by scoring 760+, but I think that I have definitely won a silver medal with a 740. I have been active on these forums for almost a 1 year now and would like to thank the members here greatly who have motivated me immensely to achieve this score and also a lot of thanks to the experts reading whose explanations I benefited greatly

My background : I graduated with B.com degree from Delhi University in 2007 and am working with one of the Big4 auditing firms for the last 5 years. MBA seems to be the natural progression for me as I have had fairly good exposure with international stints in HongKong, USA and South Africa. I'm targeting one of the top consulting schools. Apart from this, I'm an ardent F1 follower(any admirers of late Ayrton Senna here?)so you'll see glimpses of F1 in this story as I love relating everything to it.

An average Joe wants to race...
Given the kind of number crunching I have to do daily, I can play with numbers fairly well and reading is something I love doing to keep myself updated with the current business scenario in the world. At the same time, I am not exceptional at GMAT Quant like an engineer would be or at Verbal like a liberal arts graduate would be. So I'd consider myself an average GMAT candidate
who needed to put in the effort to crack the GMAT

Prep gets shelved
I had initially started preparation in Feb and had planned to take the GMAT by May so that I had enough time to apply in R1 but an opportunity to work on a on-site project in Hong Kong came up and i didn't want to miss it and this lead to my prep plan getting shelved. The workload was too much in the on-site project and didn't leave me with much time to pick up the GMAT books but I visited Beatthegmat regularly and soaked in all the wisdom and knowledge that was available here

Prep engine revs up again...
After coming back from HK, I started my prep in July beginning with a target of taking the GMAT by Sept first week so essentially I had just 70 days to prepare. I also told my boss that I'm planning for the GMAT and would need 1 month leave in Aug. Unlike the other bosses who don't take their subordinates preparing for the GMAT in the right vein, he encouraged me maybe because he had graduated from a top business school himself recently and allowed me to take 1 month break(quite
unheard of in my company) to prepare for the GMAT.

The fuel :

Initially I had started with Princeton Review's Crack the GMAT as the cover enticed me. However, the book didn't prove to very good. This book is similar to driving a Tata Nano and participating in an F1 race. It definitely helps you move forward but doesn't have the engine to help you zoom forward. Good for getting introduced to the GMAT. I realized that I need better stuff and while in HK, I chalked out my study plan, booked my GMAT appointment and bought the following resources and in hindsight I think that planning in advance helped me greatly

1. The Official Guide 13th edition - This is the air of the GMAT world. You can't live without it.
2. SC Grail - Great SC Book.
3. Ultimate One Minute Explanations to OG13 SC-Could never understand the OG SC Explanations,loved this book's
4. Powerscore CR Bible- Awesome book.
5. Aristotle RC Practice Sets- Excellent resource as I was quite weak in RC
6. Manhattan Number Properties - Good book
7. Manhattan Advanced Quant- Great theory for getting 48+ on Quant
8. Aristotle PS & DS Boosters- Good resources for math practice

Preparation for the Race :

I divided my prep strategy into three parts
Phase-I-30 days- Before I go on leave
Phase-II-30 days -During leave
Phase-III-15 days- Post leave

Phase-I-Concept Building

During the first phase in July, my goal was to learn all the concepts that are tested on the GMAT without bothering too much about practice so that when I would go on leave, I could focus more on practicing questions.

Week-I
I started with SC and finished the theory in the first week using the Manhattan SC Guide and Aristotle SC Grail . Gave 2-3 hours everyday after office and 1-2 hours during the office. Did a couple of problems from each error type

Week-II
Did a combination of RC and Maths. Learned the basic strategies for RC, RC Question types etc from the forums here .Also practiced around 10 passages from the OG and Aristotle RC. Also started with the Number properties book of MGMAT during this week

Week-III
Did the CR Bible. Finished the concepts and did a few practice questions in one week. Gave me a good understanding of how to approach CR, question types and application of concepts in questions. Also started with Manhattan Advanced Quant Guide. Since it is a thick book, it's not possible to finish it with a week

Week-IV : Kept 1 day each for SC, CR and RC revision and finished the Advanced Quant guide

Phase II-Practice
This time my goal was on practicing questions so that my application skills become good.I used the OG this time to practice questions. So kept one week for OG SC ,second week for OG CR and third week for OG RCs+ Aristotle RCs. RC was the area which I had a lot of trouble in but by practicing a lot of RCs, I was able to understand what to look for and what to avoid in RCs and was able to take
my accuracy from 60+ to 85-90%.

For Maths practice, practiced using Aristotle PS Booster & DS Booster apart from the OG maths questions which are below average in difficulty level . Whenever I got a question wrong, I made sure that not only did i read the explanation, but I also referred to the relevant concept in the Manhattan Maths guides

By the end of this phase, I felt confident in most of the areas as I had done intensive practice and was ready to test my skills in the next stage

Phase III- Testing myself

During this phase, all I did was take full length tests. Took one test every alternate day & focused on addressing the areas on that day and the next day. Analyzing a test in excruciating detail is the key to improve and not merely taking the test. Scored consistently between 710 and 760 with an exception on one test in which I scored a 680.

The Race Day
As the F1 drivers prepare themselves psychologically before a race, I did the same for the GMAT too.
I kept on visualizing what to avoid and what to do during the test. I also prepared myself about what to do if things go wrong- say I screw up the first part of the maths section, then how to pull myself back instead of throwing up my hands.

I reached the test center on time, did all the formalities and started the exam. The first thing that surprised me was that the appearance of the actual GMAT screen was exactly the same as that of the GMATPREP. I think this boosted my confidence to a great extent as I realized that the exam will not be very different from what I have already practiced and fortunately the exam went smoothly. I did mess up things at a couple of places but no regrets; after all that's what an exam is- you would try to avoid the dangerous corners but still you will bang into some of them but what is important is to not spend a lot of time recovering and get back in action quickly.

Final thoughts:


1.Planning your prep well in advance is very important ;otherwise you will end up sailing rudderless without having a clue about what is going wrong.

2.Maintaining an error log helped me a log as it helped me revise the things to remembers easily.

3. Keep visiting this forum regularly even if you don't post here regularly. It will ensure that you don't lose the motivation to study.

4. Ideally, try to finish your prep within 3-4 months. Stretching your prep beyond that may lead to you losing momentum because of some project ,family commitments etc.

5. Stick to the trusted resources.

6. Classroom coaching is not a must but can be helpful if you are looking for discipline.As long as you can maintain discipline on your own and meet the targets you have set for yourself, you probably don't require classroom training.

7.The most important point:You don't need to reinvent the wheel; all you have to do is follow a plan which the high GMAT scorers use and customize it to suit your needs.

Applying for the Early Action rounds Fuqua is my next target and I just hope that I'm able to finish the application race as successfully as the GMAT one.

Hope you would have gained something from my story and would be glad to answer if you have any queries.
Last edited by punewarrior on Sat Nov 17, 2012 9:33 am, edited 2 times in total.

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by WittyGritty » Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am
Congratulations on ur great score... Please share ur strategy to crack CR. My accuracy doesn't exceed 60% despite having read the PowerScore Bible. This drives me nuts and I have only 1month left for the exam. Also, is the complexity level of problems in PS and DS boosters comparable to the level of questions u got in gmat quant esp in the 700-800 range?

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by punewarrior » Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:05 pm
Are you able to paraphrase the argument in CR questions because that is the single biggest skill that will help you ? If you can't paraphrase CR questions and keep reading the argument the way it is written, you will take a lot of time in understanding it. Regarding PS and DS Boosters, the questions are spread across all difficulty levels with majority of them being in medium difficulty level. However,I was scared of DS and it helped me practice a lot of DS questions.The idea is to spend a good amount of time in analyzing questions, seeing multiple ways to do it. Once you are able to do this,then you can tackle any type of questions. Can't anyway think of any good source apart from these for Math practice

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by Jim@StratusPrep » Tue Sep 11, 2012 5:42 am
Great recap and great score! Congrats!
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by Javoni » Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:55 am
Hey man, you aced the GMAT, with an awesome score!

So, English is like a native language to you, yes?

I also got CR Bible and Manhattan SC guides, but somehow I could not significantly increase my Verbal score, any tips? I still struggle with Verbal section in general, my score isn't consistent unlike my Quant score, will appreciate any your advice.

Once more, great job bro for stunning score and godspeed in your admission venture!
Life begins at the End of your Comfort Zone...

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by shreenag » Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:50 am
Hey congrats on that fantastic score!

I have also planned to take around 20 working days leave.But I have split them up into 1 leave every monday for 9 weeks.Also I am planning to take 10 working days off for the final lap.

By the way What was your diagnostic score (with the split up)?
Warm regards,
Shreenath.

Never,never give up.

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by preternatural » Tue Sep 11, 2012 1:39 pm
Congrats mate! Any tips on the IR experience on test day and also material used for IR prep (apart from OG13 questions)?

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by punewarrior » Wed Sep 12, 2012 3:39 am
Javoni wrote:Hey man, you aced the GMAT, with an awesome score!

So, English is like a native language to you, yes?

I also got CR Bible and Manhattan SC guides, but somehow I could not significantly increase my Verbal score, any tips? I still struggle with Verbal section in general, my score isn't consistent unlike my Quant score, will appreciate any your advice.

Once more, great job bro for stunning score and godspeed in your admission venture!
No, I am not a native English speaker; I am from India. Do you read The Economist? If you can read its long and complex articles, you should probably be able to do CR better . I especially loved reading the comments that people post on the articles on The Economist. Since most of the people who follow the economist are usually very well educated,mostly the comments are very reasoned and make for good CR questions. Some comments strengthen the argument, some weaken them,some explain the paradox so I took a lot of learning from there and applied it on the GMAT.

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by punewarrior » Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:42 pm
shreenag wrote:Hey congrats on that fantastic score!

I have also planned to take around 20 working days leave.But I have split them up into 1 leave every monday for 9 weeks.Also I am planning to take 10 working days off for the final lap.

By the way What was your diagnostic score (with the split up)?
I had started with a 640. Don't remember the split exactly but I remember it was around 46 on Quant and 32 on Verbal. And your leave plans looks great though I wonder how your boss has allowed that leave on every Monday plan.Must be a good guy :-)

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by preternatural » Thu Sep 13, 2012 3:45 pm
preternatural wrote:Congrats mate! Any tips on the IR experience on test day and also material used for IR prep (apart from OG13 questions)?
Awaiting your response! Thanks!

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by vishalfrompunjab » Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:09 pm
CONGRATULATIONS ! GR8 ACHVMNT !


VISHAL FROM PUNJAB .

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by punewarrior » Sat Sep 15, 2012 6:42 am
preternatural wrote:Congrats mate! Any tips on the IR experience on test day and also material used for IR prep (apart from OG13 questions)?
Sorry, I just missed replying to your query. The IR questions on the actual GMAT were quite similar to those that are there come with OG13 online access. Just practice them enough,analyze them well and you should be fine and bro don't worry much about IR . Most of the schools have said that they are not going to consider IR scores seriously this year.Focus more on Quant and Verbal and even if you get 5+ on IR , you should be fine Makes sense ?

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by puritan » Fri Oct 05, 2012 3:24 am
How much did you did on IR ? Also, I've my exam coming up but I still get stuck in tough DS questions. What do you do ?Any tips, strategies would be greatly appreciated

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by punewarrior » Sun Nov 04, 2012 10:59 pm
puritan wrote:How much did you did on IR ? Also, I've my exam coming up but I still get stuck in tough DS questions. What do you do ?Any tips, strategies would be greatly appreciated
Sorry logging on to BTG after a long time. Do you still need any help on these questions ?

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by Shadow88 » Mon Nov 05, 2012 12:08 am
Hi punewarrior

Wow im lucky, i thought you were done with answering questions.
Since i'm aiming for a 48 in quant, i was wondering if you still think that the manhattan advance quant was helpful/the key for you to reach your high quant level. I already have the whole manhattan set, but i feel that i need some more "math knowledge" to be able to get 48 or higher.

I was also wondering how many hours you spent each day in your prep.

Btw, Great job and i wish you all the best