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580 practice test to 760 on actual GMAT!

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whatthecow Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
06 Feb 2017
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580 practice test to 760 on actual GMAT!

Post Fri Jul 14, 2017 1:46 pm
I don't even know where to start. I took the test this morning, and I am feeling a little overwhelmed at having all that prep pay off. I don't have the official score yet, just the unofficial GMAT Score Report you get right after the test. I'm still convinced that it's some sort of computer error somehow.

This post will be a little long, so I apologize in advance.

[b]Actual and Practice Test History:[/b]
3/2016 - Official Practice Test: 570 (this was on an old computer, and I never recorded my Q and V)
4/2016 - Official GMAT TEST: 630 (Q40/V36)
4/2/2017 - Magoosh practice: 580 (Q34/V36)
5/13/2017 - Official Practice Test: 670 (Q42/V40)
6/11/2017 - Manhattan CAT: 620 (Q41/V34)
6/24/2017 - Manhattan CAT: 670 (Q44/V37)
7/1/2017 - Official GMAT TEST: 760 (Q50/V42)

Basics: American Female, 27 years old

My Background:
Native English Speaker. In high school, I was fairly advanced in math, and that type of reasoning came easy to me. I finished AP Calculus my Junior year of high school. English and writing classes were always way more difficult for me.
In college, I studied film. Since I math had been my strong suit in high school, I tested out of any sort of college math class required for a film major. Started working in entertainment, worked at Conan, Disney Parks and Resorts, and the Sundance Film Festival. Ended up enjoying projects tied to marketing and promotions more than anything else, and found that strategy meetings were my favorite part of my job. Started applying for business strategy and marketing jobs, but with a background in film and production, it proved to be a rough transition. Decided to look into an MBA!

Attempt 1: 2016 edition
Was working multiple jobs, during event season, and planning for 4 months of traveling through the UK. Life was extremely stressful, irregular, and so was I. Studied with just the OG, had no structure. got a 630. Nothing to be ashamed of, but not the kind of score that was going to get my dream business schools to look at my nontraditional resume in a serious way.

Attempt 2: 2017 edition
Knew if I wanted to do well, I needed life to calm down. Held off until after the Film Festival, then went headlong into books. Studied February-June - sporadically at first, then really consistently near the end.

What I used:
- Khan Academy. I was so discouraged by people who kept telling me GMAT was like 8 grade level math. When I went straight into the GMAT material, I was confused on a very fundamental level. I didn't understand the rules, I didn't remember how to really... do math. I went through their Arithmetic, Pre-Algebra, Geometry, Algebra, and Statistics classes. IF you are in a situation like me, where it's been over a decade since you did math, I strongly recommend doing these courses. I did them in free time, and didn't treat it as part of my real studying. I knew I didn't want to get burned out early. This was more like a game for me. Boy, did it help!
- MAGOOSH. I have irregular hours. I lived an hour away from my job. There was no way for me to take a class of any kind. I also struggle to learn by reading. What I needed was a semi structured and totally flexible method. Magoosh was that. I followed their study plan, I used their OG companion Google Sheets as the foundation of my error logs. I emailed the tutors questions. It gave me EVERYTHING I needed to get to the 670 on practices, and get a consistent score in verbal.
- Manhattan Strategy Guides. I did the 5 math basic ones, and started the advanced quant book. These are excellent. Before reading them, I was good at math. What I learned from them is that the GMAT quant truly isn't about being good at math, it's about being good at reasoning with math. Helped me learn where I could break my own rules about writing every step. Pushed my Quant score up quite a bit. Bless them. Also, the way they do the feedback sheet after taking a CAT is the MOST helpful.
- PowerScore Tutor. Even after all my prep, I was still missing questions about factorials and rate/work. I read all the blogs, forums, videos, and books about it, but I still couldn't consistently perform on these questions. I needed someone to talk it through with me. If you go with a tutor, MAKE SURE YOU INTERVIEW THEM AND MAKE SURE ITS A GOOD FIT. I took the first tutor they gave me, and it was a waste of time because he thought so different from me. The communication didn't work. I asked to be switched, and my second tutor was a way better fit for my style of thinking. He was able to capture what tripped me up, and explain how I could conquer that on the test. Only did 2 hours here
- Official Guide 2016. Obviously.
- Subscription to the Economist. This was recommended by Magoosh to help with verbal. I actually ended up skipping any sort of verbal prep in my last two months outside of actively reading the economist.

Lessons learned
- Choose to take the test at a time in your life where you can realistically devote time to it
- Pick a time of day and location to study and stick to it
- Don't take a CAT every week. Quantity is not Quality. Take two weeks to study your test results. Evaluate at least 2 other ways to solve every problems. Think of a scenarios and which method you'd go with for each kind.
- Keep a detailed error log. Read it at least once a week. Add notes to it when you do the question again. Look for themes on the type of questions you're missing. What questions are you strongest at? Can you use your strength to improve your weakness?
- Learn to love the GMAT! I genuinely love studying for this test. It was like a daily game to play. I tried to maintain that perspective through every part of it. If you love puzzles and brain teasers, you can learn to love these questions. In addition, I loved reading other people's approach on GMATclub and Beat the GMAT, it was all so interesting! Some advice you will read in the reading comp is to view each passage as something SUPER INTERESTING. I think this advice should apply to every aspect of the test.
- Extraordinary results demand extraordinary work. There was a blog post Mike at Magoosh wrote that said something along those lines and it changed my perspective. Was my level of dedication average, or was it exceptional?

And that's it! I'm so grateful to be on this side of the GMAT mountain. My inbox is open if anyone has any other questions.

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Post Sun Jul 16, 2017 12:15 pm
Congratulations! So many of the things you mention here are so important:

- "Extraordinary results demand extraordinary work" --> I couldn't agree more!

- "Keep a detailed error log" I think that some students think "yeah, that's a good idea in theory, but I don't really have time to do that on top of practice questions." Hopefully your post will convince them to make time. It's absolutely essential to improving! More here for anyone interested: https://www.manhattanprep.com/gmat/blog/2013/01/18/the-worst-mistake-you-can-make-in-gmat-studying/

- "Learn to love it" --> yes! If you treat it like a chore, it will be hard to stay engaged. Treat it like a game - and reward yourself when you improve - and the process will be much more pleasant, and probably much more successful.

- "GMAT quant truly isn't about being good at math, it's about being good at reasoning with math." --> Again, couldn't agree more. And I'm so glad that you found the Manhattan Prep guides helpful!

Now go celebrate your fabulous achievement!


Ceilidh Erickson
Manhattan Prep GMAT & GRE instructor
EdM in Mind, Brain, and Education
Harvard Graduate School of Education

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