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640 V40 Q37 recap (long)

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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640 V40 Q37 recap (long)

by eightball » Sun Apr 19, 2009 6:24 pm
Hi Everyone,

I found this message board to be very helpful before taking the GMAT, and I would like to thank all of the contributors for the great material and encouragement. My goals of beating my target MBA program's average of 622 were a bit modest compared to the goals many of you have, but I nonetheless thought that by recapping my experiences it may be helpful for others.

About three weeks ago, I began reviewing the GMAT for Dummies book. It took about one week to review the book's material cover to cover. After I completed this process, I downloaded the GMATPrep software, went to the local library, and took the first practice test. The result was Q30 V38 570. Although I was disappointed by this first score, I was generally happy with the GMAT for Dummies book. I have been away from school for about 12 years, and it does a good job of covering the basics in terms that are easy to understand. Given this score, I realized, however, that I needed more advanced study materials.

Two weeks ago, I began reviewing questions in the Official Guide. I spent the bulk of my time on quant questions, since I was relatively comfortable with my verbal score on the first GMATPrep test. I focused primary on the last 40 sample questions in the DS and PS sections, since it seemed that the more difficult problems were arranged at the end of each question pool in the OG. I also spent some time reviewing the GMATPrep test questions, focusing on the problems I missed, and reviewing analyses on this and other websites. I took the second GMATPrep test at the end of the second week and the result was Q35 V40 620. Almost there!

For my last week of preparation, and since my verbal score improved by 2 points with very little attention, I abandoned the verbal section completely to focus entirely on quant. My efforts for the third week included reviewing questions that I missed on the GMATPrep tests, as well as those that I answered correctly by lucky guessing.

My test was scheduled for yesterday at noon. I spent the morning trying to relax, and doing only light studying (reviewing key formulas, number properties, message board surfing, reviewing sample AWA topics). I took the real test and I was very happy with my results (Q37 V40 640). As I mentioned, my goal was to beat 622, and I was happy that I was able to do so with three weeks of preparation.

So to recap:

Week 1 (GMAT Prep) - Q30 V38 570
Week 2 (GMAT Prep) - Q35 V40 620
Week 3 (Real GMAT) - Q38 V40 640

Here are some tips that may help others. GMAT pros, of course, are welcome to challenge me on any of these observations. Also, some of these may be common knowledge, but now you'll know that at least one person saw evidence of their influence. These are just things that either worked for me, or things that I wish I had done better...

Don't neglect the AWA section - I would not say I neglected it, but I definitely didn't give it enough attention. The reason I say this is because it is the first section of the test, and sets the tone for your stress level on the quantitative section. I struggled to finish the essays on time, having only 1-2 minutes to proofread at the end in both cases. This stressed me out, and the ten minute break was just not enough for me to get over it. I did 4 practice essays over three weeks, and I wish I had done about 4 more, focusing on keeping things relatively basic and insightful, and allowing a lot of time to proofread at the end. Five full minutes of proofreading would have made a world of difference for me.

Don't overdo the caffeine the day before your test - I put in a 10 hour studying session at Starbucks the day before, and it was a mistake. I was all jacked up on $9 Americanos (I exaggerate the price, but only slightly!) and I didn't get to sleep until about 2am the night before the test, only to wake up on test day at around 7am. I think the lack of sleep translated to lack of points on my final score. I am an advocate of studying the day before (maybe not 10 hours), but if I had to do over again I would have cut it off at 5pm, had a nice dinner, and gone to sleep early.

Look into the GMAT logistics way ahead of time - It was my own fault, but it was pretty late in the game when I realized that it takes three weeks or so for schools to receive GMAT scores after the test is completed. On top of that, dates and times for taking the test at my preferred location were limited with short notice, so given these two factors combined with my school's deadline to receive my scores, my window to take the exam was very limited. I wish I had looked into these things earlier, which would have given me more than three weeks to prepare. I had thought originally that I would need about 5-6 weeks, and if I had this amount of time, I am wondering if I could have gotten in the high 600's or even 700+.

Show up at the test center early - The official paperwork says 30 minutes, and I know it may sound crazy, but I would instead show up an hour early. This is for two reasons. First, especially if you are taking the test on a weekend, you may find yourself in a situation where the building hosting your exam has certain entrances blocked off, special weekend parking arrangements, or any number of unexpected alterations for the weekend. The extra time will allow you to navigate these things, as well as unforeseen traffic challenges, etc. Secondly, showing up early will get you accustomed to the test center environment - temperature, smells, noises, spatial orientation, and a maybe some subconscious things that your mind would not notice if you didn't have the time to absorb everything by arriving early. This helped to calm my nerves before the test.

Resist the temptation to finish the last questions quickly - It was very difficult for me, especially during the quant section, once I got past question 30. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, and with time dwindling, it was VERY hard not to give up on difficult questions in order to finish the section as quickly as possible. Since I was able to resist the temptation, I think this helped my score.

My apologies for the long post, but I felt that I owed the detailed recap to the forum since it was such a tremendous help for me. I am happy to expand on anything or clarify as needed. Thanks again!


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by 4seasoncentre » Sun Apr 19, 2009 7:43 pm
Congrats on your GMAT :)

I think that is all very useful advise.

Personally I didn't even get involved in the GMAT online community before writing because I knew it would only make me nervous.

I personally think test takers should take the day before the GMAT off (no studying) and try to relax.

In terms of the timing to send in scores, i wrote on a Thursday, the Friday was a holiday, and I got my official score report on Saturday. They say it make take 20 or so days, but they are generally very fast. Also, my school told me to e-mail them the results after writing the test. Of course, they would expect the unofficial and official results to match.

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by zuleron » Mon Apr 20, 2009 5:43 am

I think you are right about the AWA. I am a lawyer so that part of it is usually easy so I ignored it in my prep and was surprised at how stressed I got during the real thing because I wanted to make the essays perfect I found that I ran out of time... and this set the tone in subtle ways for the rest of the test.

Good Luck in your apps!

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by eightball » Wed Jun 10, 2009 8:48 am
Hello All,

As an update to my original post, I wanted to let everyone know that I was accepted into my program of choice (Georgia Tech MBA) with my previously reported GMAT score. Also, contrary to my original expectations, my AWA score was a perfect 6.0... believe me, I will gladly accept it, and not ask questions!

For those of you interested in the same program, I am happy to share the the finer details of my application profile (just send me a message). On a high level, though, I was a B+ undergrad from Kennesaw State University BS Political Science, ~12 years work experience in IT, good essays (per the interviewer), and 3 good recommendation letters.

Thanks again to the forum for the thoughtful posts and support.

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by skang357 » Wed Jun 10, 2009 11:31 am
Excellent work! With the acceptance as the cherry on top!

Good to see another oldschool mba aspirant. So many kids nowadays applying when they are like 23 or 24 or even while they are still in college....
Impossible is nothing

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by aj5105 » Wed Jun 10, 2009 11:31 am