400 (mock) to 690 (actual)(88%)-49Q & 35V w/ Debrief

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Just gave my exam and got 690. I gave it earlier but got 640.

Not sure if I should be happy, but I feel relieved since other elements of my application are decent.

I owe a debrief to this wonderful community. Will post it soon!

Updated with debrief

Background

- Non-native English speaker. Don't like reading unless the topic is really interesting
- Not savvy in Math. Last time I solved a math problem was in 1995, never did permutations & combinations and some other topics that are tested in the GMAT
- Working full-time at a Big 4 accounting firm that keeps me more than busy with travel

You can imagine how grueling my GMAT journey would have been.

I gave the exam twice and did not fare well. Check my post:

https://www.beatthegmat.com/640-to-700-s ... tml#186860

In the first attempt, I realized that cramming doesn't work and I need to be very clear about the concepts. Also, I tried to learn concepts from OGs. I just solved each OG question untimed.

In the second attempt, I realized that timing is extremely important and that my brain freezes when I am pressed for time. As a result, I cannot focus on the question irrespective of the difficulty level.

Here are some of the weaknesses I figured in each area:

Quant:
Did not know all concepts cold & did not analyze the difficult problems while solving, as a result I used to get most of the difficult problems wrong.

Key take away: GMAT is all about being clear about some basic concepts and being able to parse the difficult problem and use the concepts. Also, speed and accuracy is very important.

Verbal:
My reading speed is way too slow and my comprehension is not upto the mark.

In general, I go in a panic mode when I am pressed for time. In my first attempt, I randomly guessed 8 questions in a row at the end of both Quant & Verbal and finally got a 580 (47Q, 21V). In my second attempt, I made educated guesses whenever I faced a difficult problem in Quant (thinking that it should be ok) and in Verbal, I had to guess 8 questions randomly.

Lessons learnt:

- Know the concepts cold. Do not attempt the exam without having firm knowledge of the most tested concepts.
- Never ever guess at random
- Never ever guess in a row
In Quant & Verbal, the below are very important

Speed reading
Comprehension
Critical thinking

How I improved my reading & comprehension?

I made it a point to read few columns in Economist and Wall Street Journal for at least half hour per day. I focused on opinion section and tried to understand what exactly is the author trying to say. With some reading, I was able to identify which sentences are opinion statements and which ones are just facts. This helped me in RC & CR.

I read Power Reading (did not complete it as the book was focusing more on reading from printed material rather than from computer. But it has some good pointers)

I read Doing Grammar. It is a very good book to understand the sentence structure. I found it very useful, especially parsing a sentence into components. Caveat - add this book to your list if time is not a constraint.

Now I love reading WSJ :) .

How I approached this time?

With a job that keeps me on the go for most of the time, I realized that I cannot spend more than 2 hours during the week days & 8 hrs during the weekend. I was working for almost 60 hours a week during Sept, Oct, and Nov. But just went on with a 'I can do it' attitude.

Quant:
- OG 11 & 12 again
- GMAT Clubs - excellent source for solving hard problems. Although I did not get a good percentile score, I was able to breeze through the quant section in main exam.
- Solved 5 problems per day in PS & DS from this forum.

For the wrong ones & the right ones, I followed a 3 step approach during my analysis:

1. What did I learn from this problem that I can use for future problems?
2. Why did I get a question wrong?
- I made it a point to be as precise and specific as I can be: know the concepts but did not analyze the problem, reading error, followed an inefficient approach etc.
This helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses. Identification of both are extremely important in two ways: reinforce strengths and prepare guessing strategies for the weak areas
3. Is my approach efficient than the way it was solved in the official explanation? If not, what did I miss.
This helped me improve my timing.

I came out with a lessons learned log and made sure I revisited the problems that I erred at least twice before the D day.

Time management:
When I reach a multiple of 5, I check the timing.
5 - 66
10 - 56
15 - 46
20 - 36
25 - 26
30 - 16
35 - 6

Main exam experience in Quant:

Exam started with a way too easy problem that I could solve in 10 secs, but I was skeptical to move on as I want to make sure I get the first (and rest too :) ) right. I spent 30 more secs confirming my answer. I was ahead of time by 6th question, then came a complex looking problem with a picture: a packaging industry dropping certain items in boxes etc. I figured that it was a number properties related problem and was able to solve in a min. (Identification of topic being tested helps you determine whether it is your strength area or otherwise).

Overall, I was ahead of time by 10 mins when I was at 20th problem. Then I started seeing complex problems. The buffer I built up started melting and by the time I was at 30th problem, I was ahead just by 2 mins. I had to guess couple of problems in between, but this time I made an educated guess. I finished Quant with 3 mins to spare. I did not take a break immediately. I put together a grid for Verbal and I relaxed for the next 2.5 mins.

Verbal:

SC
After working on improving reading and comprehension, I started MGMAT SC guide again. Solved every SC problem in OG 11, 12, Verbal Guide. I solved 1000 SCs. I aimed to get my pace to 1 min per question.

RC
Since I exhausted the OG questions, I was getting almost 100% strike rate. I solved some LSAT questions. These questions are way too complicated, but I tried to get at least 80% strike rate with an average timing of 2 mins per question. I also solved timed RCs from this site https://litesee.com/gmat.htm

CR
Same as in RC.

For all three sections, I followed the same 3 step approach that I followed for Quant. In RC, I realized that I am getting most errors in specific detail questions, which are very easy to solve. For the wrong ones, I tried solving without looking at OA to determine why I missed the correct answer. This helped me fine tune my strategies for each section.

Time management:

When I reach a multiple of 5, I check the timing. I assigned 9 mins for a set of 5 questions. Also, during my practice tests, I tried solving verbal within 70 mins.

Main exam experience in Verbal:

By the time I reached 4th question, I was already behind time. Answer choices for most of the questions were looking vague. I was able to eliminate 3 choices pretty easily. I was debating between the other two choices. I figured that if I waste time in debating, I am not going to get to the end without guessing randomly.

Luckily, I got 2 business passages that were easy to comprehend. Overall, I was not confident of my answer choices.

Since I did not want to cancel my scores, I selected 'report scores'. Saw 690; I was neither happy nor feeling bad (just got a response from an MBA consultant that this score is less-than-average score for top tier, hmm). I saw that the median scores are between 690 to 740 for top tier schools. So wasn't too worried since I have 8 years of work ex.

How I overcame panic attack?

At one point in the verbal section, I was in a panic mode again. I just said one thing to myself, 'It is my future, I need to take control of the exam. I do not want to allow the exam to take control of me.' This helped me reinforce confidence and take charge. Remember, if you are stuck, the first thing you need to do is 'How can you change the situation'. This can be anything, POE, thinking critically etc.

Magic formula for getting a dream score:

IMO - Confidence + Knowing concepts cold + Time management + stress management + consistent implementation of strategies (including guessing) = Dream Score

How I handled stress?

Since it was my third attempt, I wanted to avoid pressure. So, I kept telling myself that this is just an exam, not an end of the world; I already have a good job that pays me well; I know the concepts cold and I will do well in the exam. Most importantly, I emphasized that my confidence is my strength and that nervousness and stress are detrimental to get the dream score.

However, during the nights leading upto the D-Day, I was able to sleep for 4 to 5 hrs only. I thought I should be fine if I sleep well before the exam day. But I slept only for 3 hrs :( . I was able to reduce pressure but could not eliminate it completely.

It is very important to get a good night sleep at least during the last 2 weeks. Never ever cram. Just focus on solving few problems and revisiting the lessons learned log during the last 2 week.

AWA: - Got 5.5

I have nothing much to talk about AWA. Just follow the template and make sure you are very comfortable with it. The less you spend your energy in the AWA section, the better it is for Quant and verbal.

Well guys, I guess I need to stop this long debrief. Hope this will be helpful for someone or the other. I felt that I need to share my experiences with folks here.

Thanks to the creators of this forum. Thanks to everyone for actively participating in this forum. I just can't imagine my GMAT journey without this wonderful community.

Finally, do check posts from Stacey, Stuart, Ron, Ian, and TestLuv. They have some wonderful ways to approach the questions. Thanks guys, you make this community a bible for GMAT.
Last edited by crackgmat007 on Sat Nov 14, 2009 8:30 am, edited 2 times in total.

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by ambreenss » Mon Nov 09, 2009 1:48 pm
wow,,,,,congratulations on ur big achievement...could you please post the story for how u did it n what sort of strategies u used to improve ...i desparately need help to improve my score from 530 :(

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by papgust » Mon Nov 09, 2009 6:27 pm
Congrats crackgmat! You owe us a detailed post of your preparation and experience. We are waiting for you!

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by pandeyvineet24 » Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:57 am
Well done crackgmat007, 690 is a real good score. How were the quant and verbal questions in the exam ? easier comapred with GPREP?

I am in the same boat as you were. Trying hard to break the 700 barrier.
Good luck with your apps.

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by prepforgmat » Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:27 am
Congrats on your score! waiting to read through your experiences during preparations and advice. I'm in 510 range and am aiming for 600(my first goal and then higher 600's 2nd goal). am planning to give test in 1st week of jan.have not taken test date yet.

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by prepforgmat » Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:28 am
Congrats on your score! waiting to read through your experiences during preparations and advice. I'm in 510 range and am aiming for 600(my first goal and then higher 600's 2nd goal). am planning to give test in 1st week of jan.have not taken test date yet.

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by crackgmat007 » Fri Nov 13, 2009 12:29 pm
Updated with debrief.

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by crackgmat007 » Sat Nov 14, 2009 8:41 am
pandeyvineet24 wrote:Well done crackgmat007, 690 is a real good score. How were the quant and verbal questions in the exam ? easier comapred with GPREP?

I am in the same boat as you were. Trying hard to break the 700 barrier.
Good luck with your apps.
Thanks.

Quant was more in line with GPREP except the harder ones. I got some questions around pentagon.

Verbal was vague. Specially SC. I was able to easily eliminate 3 choices, but for the rest, it was a tuff call.

Good luck for your prep.

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crackgmat007 wrote:Just gave my exam and got 690. I gave it earlier but got 640.

Not sure if I should be happy, but I feel relieved since other elements of my application are decent.

I owe a debrief to this wonderful community. Will post it soon!

Updated with debrief

Background

- Non-native English speaker. Don't like reading unless the topic is really interesting
- Not savvy in Math. Last time I solved a math problem was in 1995, never did permutations & combinations and some other topics that are tested in the GMAT
- Working full-time at a Big 4 accounting firm that keeps me more than busy with travel

You can imagine how grueling my GMAT journey would have been.

I gave the exam twice and did not fare well. Check my post:

https://www.beatthegmat.com/640-to-700-s ... tml#186860

In the first attempt, I realized that cramming doesn't work and I need to be very clear about the concepts. Also, I tried to learn concepts from OGs. I just solved each OG question untimed.

In the second attempt, I realized that timing is extremely important and that my brain freezes when I am pressed for time. As a result, I cannot focus on the question irrespective of the difficulty level.

Here are some of the weaknesses I figured in each area:

Quant:
Did not know all concepts cold & did not analyze the difficult problems while solving, as a result I used to get most of the difficult problems wrong.

Key take away: GMAT is all about being clear about some basic concepts and being able to parse the difficult problem and use the concepts. Also, speed and accuracy is very important.

Verbal:
My reading speed is way too slow and my comprehension is not upto the mark.

In general, I go in a panic mode when I am pressed for time. In my first attempt, I randomly guessed 8 questions in a row at the end of both Quant & Verbal and finally got a 580 (47Q, 21V). In my second attempt, I made educated guesses whenever I faced a difficult problem in Quant (thinking that it should be ok) and in Verbal, I had to guess 8 questions randomly.

Lessons learnt:

- Know the concepts cold. Do not attempt the exam without having firm knowledge of the most tested concepts.
- Never ever guess at random
- Never ever guess in a row
In Quant & Verbal, the below are very important

Speed reading
Comprehension
Critical thinking

How I improved my reading & comprehension?

I made it a point to read few columns in Economist and Wall Street Journal for at least half hour per day. I focused on opinion section and tried to understand what exactly is the author trying to say. With some reading, I was able to identify which sentences are opinion statements and which ones are just facts. This helped me in RC & CR.

I read Power Reading (did not complete it as the book was focusing more on reading from printed material rather than from computer. But it has some good pointers)

I read Doing Grammar. It is a very good book to understand the sentence structure. I found it very useful, especially parsing a sentence into components. Caveat - add this book to your list if time is not a constraint.

Now I love reading WSJ :) .

How I approached this time?

With a job that keeps me on the go for most of the time, I realized that I cannot spend more than 2 hours during the week days & 8 hrs during the weekend. I was working for almost 60 hours a week during Sept, Oct, and Nov. But just went on with a 'I can do it' attitude.

Quant:
- OG 11 & 12 again
- GMAT Clubs - excellent source for solving hard problems. Although I did not get a good percentile score, I was able to breeze through the quant section in main exam.
- Solved 5 problems per day in PS & DS from this forum.

For the wrong ones & the right ones, I followed a 3 step approach during my analysis:

1. What did I learn from this problem that I can use for future problems?
2. Why did I get a question wrong?
- I made it a point to be as precise and specific as I can be: know the concepts but did not analyze the problem, reading error, followed an inefficient approach etc.
This helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses. Identification of both are extremely important in two ways: reinforce strengths and prepare guessing strategies for the weak areas
3. Is my approach efficient than the way it was solved in the official explanation? If not, what did I miss.
This helped me improve my timing.

I came out with a lessons learned log and made sure I revisited the problems that I erred at least twice before the D day.

Time management:
When I reach a multiple of 5, I check the timing.
5 - 66
10 - 56
15 - 46
20 - 36
25 - 26
30 - 16
35 - 6

Main exam experience in Quant:

Exam started with a way too easy problem that I could solve in 10 secs, but I was skeptical to move on as I want to make sure I get the first (and rest too :) ) right. I spent 30 more secs confirming my answer. I was ahead of time by 6th question, then came a complex looking problem with a picture: a packaging industry dropping certain items in boxes etc. I figured that it was a number properties related problem and was able to solve in a min. (Identification of topic being tested helps you determine whether it is your strength area or otherwise).

Overall, I was ahead of time by 10 mins when I was at 20th problem. Then I started seeing complex problems. The buffer I built up started melting and by the time I was at 30th problem, I was ahead just by 2 mins. I had to guess couple of problems in between, but this time I made an educated guess. I finished Quant with 3 mins to spare. I did not take a break immediately. I put together a grid for Verbal and I relaxed for the next 2.5 mins.

Verbal:

SC
After working on improving reading and comprehension, I started MGMAT SC guide again. Solved every SC problem in OG 11, 12, Verbal Guide. I solved 1000 SCs. I aimed to get my pace to 1 min per question.

RC
Since I exhausted the OG questions, I was getting almost 100% strike rate. I solved some LSAT questions. These questions are way too complicated, but I tried to get at least 80% strike rate with an average timing of 2 mins per question. I also solved timed RCs from this site https://litesee.com/gmat.htm

CR
Same as in RC.

For all three sections, I followed the same 3 step approach that I followed for Quant. In RC, I realized that I am getting most errors in specific detail questions, which are very easy to solve. For the wrong ones, I tried solving without looking at OA to determine why I missed the correct answer. This helped me fine tune my strategies for each section.

Time management:

When I reach a multiple of 5, I check the timing. I assigned 9 mins for a set of 5 questions. Also, during my practice tests, I tried solving verbal within 70 mins.

Main exam experience in Verbal:

By the time I reached 4th question, I was already behind time. Answer choices for most of the questions were looking vague. I was able to eliminate 3 choices pretty easily. I was debating between the other two choices. I figured that if I waste time in debating, I am not going to get to the end without guessing randomly.

Luckily, I got 2 business passages that were easy to comprehend. Overall, I was not confident of my answer choices.

Since I did not want to cancel my scores, I selected 'report scores'. Saw 690; I was neither happy nor feeling bad (just got a response from an MBA consultant that this score is less-than-average score for top tier, hmm). I saw that the median scores are between 690 to 740 for top tier schools. So wasn't too worried since I have 8 years of work ex.

How I overcame panic attack?

At one point in the verbal section, I was in a panic mode again. I just said one thing to myself, 'It is my future, I need to take control of the exam. I do not want to allow the exam to take control of me.' This helped me reinforce confidence and take charge. Remember, if you are stuck, the first thing you need to do is 'How can you change the situation'. This can be anything, POE, thinking critically etc.

Magic formula for getting a dream score:

IMO - Confidence + Knowing concepts cold + Time management + stress management + consistent implementation of strategies (including guessing) = Dream Score

How I handled stress?

Since it was my third attempt, I wanted to avoid pressure. So, I kept telling myself that this is just an exam, not an end of the world; I already have a good job that pays me well; I know the concepts cold and I will do well in the exam. Most importantly, I emphasized that my confidence is my strength and that nervousness and stress are detrimental to get the dream score.

However, during the nights leading upto the D-Day, I was able to sleep for 4 to 5 hrs only. I thought I should be fine if I sleep well before the exam day. But I slept only for 3 hrs :( . I was able to reduce pressure but could not eliminate it completely.

It is very important to get a good night sleep at least during the last 2 weeks. Never ever cram. Just focus on solving few problems and revisiting the lessons learned log during the last 2 week.

AWA: - Got 5.5

I have nothing much to talk about AWA. Just follow the template and make sure you are very comfortable with it. The less you spend your energy in the AWA section, the better it is for Quant and verbal.

Well guys, I guess I need to stop this long debrief. Hope this will be helpful for someone or the other. I felt that I need to share my experiences with folks here.

Thanks to the creators of this forum. Thanks to everyone for actively participating in this forum. I just can't imagine my GMAT journey without this wonderful community.

Finally, do check posts from Stacey, Stuart, Ron, Ian, and TestLuv. They have some wonderful ways to approach the questions. Thanks guys, you make this community a bible for GMAT.
Great Score

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by hitmewithgmat » Sun Nov 15, 2009 11:20 am
Good luck with everything.
Disclaimer-I am not a GMAT savvy yet, but I am learning everyday with my fellow beatthegmat citizens.

I AM DETERMINED TO CRASH/NIX OUT/ATTACK BRUTALLY/CRACK VERBAL PART OF GMAT. ROAR!

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by azarmij » Sun Dec 20, 2009 6:26 pm
Great work and Congraz!! Your post is very helpful especially, Im also a non-native English speaker which having problem with time pressure and fast reading.. more efficient with enough time..but thats not the way!!

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by viju9162 » Sun Dec 20, 2009 7:50 pm
Hi crackgmat007,

Amazing debrief and congrats for the good score. While reading your debrief, I felt someone has written about my experience with the exam :).

I liked your attitude towards the exam. I'm also struggling to find time for studies because of intense work load. But, I am sure, I can "beatthegmat" :).

Thanks for the wonderful post again! It regained my confidence to crack the exam. Time management is very critical, I am using an excel sheet where we can record the time utilized for each question. That helps to evaluate the problematic areas.

All the best for your future!

Regards,
Viju
"Native of" is used for a individual while "Native to" is used for a large group

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by prepforgmat » Sun Dec 20, 2009 10:35 pm
Hi crackgmat,
your debrief is very useful for ppl like me. I started with a low score and trying to improve. my mgmat scores are :

mgmat 1 Q39:v20-500---10/13/2009
mgmat 2 Q35:V23-490---11/06/2009
mgmat 3 Q42:V27-570---11/29/2009
mgmat 4 Q33:V28-520---12/07/2009
mgmat 5 Q38:V30-570---12/12/2007
mgmat 6 Q43:V27-580---12/18/2009

gave gmatprep1 today-dec 20th.
Q45, V33 - 640.

I dont know if I was just lucky or mgmat's are difficult. I felt verbal was easier than earlier.and to some extent quant too.
My actual gmat is scheduled for the 28th dec - 1 week to go., planning to give 2-3 more mocks in this time.

I have questions for you...
1. u were talking about a verbal grid that u drew before taking a break btw Q and V section. can u pls share what kind of grid.
2 .are the mgmat's really tougher than the actual exam?

thank u again for the excellent debrief. I have also noted down your time management tables for both V and Q. I am not able to finish Q on time though my timing on Verbal is just right. I guessed last 5 questions in quant.on my last two mocks.

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by crackgmat007 » Mon Dec 21, 2009 9:52 am
azarmij wrote:Great work and Congraz!! Your post is very helpful especially, Im also a non-native English speaker which having problem with time pressure and fast reading.. more efficient with enough time..but thats not the way!!
Thanks azarmij. IMO if you have perfect time management, you can cruise through the exam easily. To increase reading speed, just follow the tons of tips on this wonderful forum or the ones stated in my post.

Good luck for your prep!

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by crackgmat007 » Mon Dec 21, 2009 1:45 pm
viju9162 wrote:Hi crackgmat007,

Amazing debrief and congrats for the good score. While reading your debrief, I felt someone has written about my experience with the exam :).

I liked your attitude towards the exam. I'm also struggling to find time for studies because of intense work load. But, I am sure, I can "beatthegmat" :).

Thanks for the wonderful post again! It regained my confidence to crack the exam. Time management is very critical, I am using an excel sheet where we can record the time utilized for each question. That helps to evaluate the problematic areas.

All the best for your future!

Regards,
Viju
Thanks Viju. I read lot of inspiring stories on this forum, so thought it's my turn to give back to this wonderful forum. Attitude and confidence is all required on the days leading to the exam.

Good luck for your prep. Am sure you will beatthegmat.