760 (Q51/V41) in 3 months (Family, Work, Found Time)

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First, a little background - this story will be somewhat different. I work full time in the United States (born and raised) as a Treasury Manager in a Fortune 500 company which is undergoing significant restructuring and moving headquarters to another city. I have an understanding wife and two energetic boys who love nothing more than to jump off the couch and elbow drop my face when I get home (the kids, not the wife... maybe the wife too). Having already earned my CFA designation in 2013, the allure of top 10 MBA schools in the new city finally drove me to sign up for the GMAT.

Before I go into the materials I used, I want to explain my mindset throughout this ordeal. While I was studying for the three levels of the CFA (3 years), I put my family through hell. I was never home, studying before and after work, and barely got to see my children awake as I would even spend entire weekends in the office or the library to study. I had that banker mentality and my family suffered for it. In the end, my family forgave me, but I promised myself that I would never fail as a father and a husband again.

My approach this time was to not sacrifice my family, but instead figure out how to maximize my own time awake. After finding out that there wasn't enough awake time to work long hours, be a good father and study for the GMAT, I decided that I had to increase my awake time. I researched REM cycles and other sleeping habits, and discovered that if I slept at 10:30pm, I could train myself to wake up at 3:00am and still feel almost 100% (the first week was absolutely terrible but my body eventually got used to it). Suddenly, I could go from 6.5 hours of sleep to 4.5 hours, and created 2 extra hours a day during the weekdays to study. My study schedule became: Get to work by 4:30am to study 2.5 - 3 hours in the morning and put the kids to bed at 9 and study an extra 1 - 1.5 hours in the evening. This was especially helpful since we had to use many weekends to take relocation tours of the new city and try to find a place to live.

I started my studying back on January 4th, and took my first GMAT Prep Exam and received a 670 (Q46, V36). Thinking I had a 700 in the bag with my planned studying time, I purchased the complete set of the Manhattan Guides and the Official Guide, and started cranking away at the Manhattan Guides through self study. It took about a month and a half to go through all of the books including IR and AWA. I downloaded the Manhattan syllabus from its website that included OG problem sets and I did all of homework sets: easy, moderate, and hard. On Manhattan, I found the books and strategies to be extremely helpful on Verbal. Throughout the studying process I used Manhattan's methods on all of my verbal practice questions. However, as I was the Manhattan CATs, I kept floating around the 650 - 670 mark. I found that while my verbal was improving, my quant simply was not.

Fast forward to late February - after my 5th CAT (various providers, but not the GMAT Prep Test #2) score of under 700, I was completely flabbergasted. "How can I be doing poorly on quant?" I had practiced generic macro strategies such as smart numbers and skipping questions, but I was still not completing the Quant section on time or I was forced to guess through the last few questions because I was getting stumped on so many tough questions.

Frustrated, I ended up looking through the beatthegmat website and the Reviews section and saw the Target Test Prep reviews. There was a promotion for a week-long free trial. I thought, "why not?" I took the diagnostic after choosing the "awesome score" target, and learned that I still had so many different weak points regarding the tougher quant material. More so, I saw detailed videos that explained what I was doing wrong in each of those questions. I knew right then and there that this was what I needed.

I ended up using the "short" study plan, and ripped through the chapter tests to further discover what my weak points were, putting aside Verbal for now. Target Test Prep's Dashboard is a phenomenal tool which tracks all the questions answered and identifies areas of weakness. Within each area, there is instruction material (all online) that details exactly the different types of questions that the GMAT would give you during the actual test, and various methods to defeat them. Manhattan did have a tracking system but it wasn't as integrated online to the chapter studies like Target Test Prep. By honing my weak chapters and converting them into strengths, I saw the effects on my practice scores. After getting a 750 (Q49, V44) on the GMAT Prep Test #2 on March 13, I immediately signed up to take the real thing a week later.

That last week, I continued to take custom practice exams (moderate & hard) from Target Test Prep in the early morning, IR/AWA practice during lunch (my boss was understanding and I told him that I would only do this for one week) and Official GMAT questions (moderate and hard) in the evening. I took the real exam on March 19th, and had all the anxiety problems that so many people experience (I can never sleep well before tests, and only managed to get 1-2 hours of sleep for this test). My wife cooked me a ham and egg sandwich that I shoveled down, and I brought 2 granola bars and a soda in a clear bag to the testing center for my 8:00am appointment.

Now for the test - AWA went smoothly (waiting on official AWA score now), and I had plenty of time to check errors, etc. As an aside, my AWA preparations were simply to get used to writing about 2-3 flaws in the argument in a structured manner (studied examples through online forums and the Manhattan book).

IR was a slobberknocker. I realized how tired I was and completely guessed on the first question after flubbing around for too long. I started panicking, and then I remembered that IR doesn't really matter and I cleared my mind. I breathed deeply and closed my eyes for a good 15-20 seconds, and started on Question 2. Feeling less pressure, I guessed on questions that I thought would take too long and concentrated on the ones I knew I could do quickly. My confidence grew and I finished with 2 minutes left to go. Break-time - I chowed down on one of my granola bars, went to the bathroom, and came back to the testing area.

Time for Quant! From Question 1, it felt like I was that guy from Limitless. I was identifying all the traps that the GMAT was dishing out, and finished with 6 minutes remaining. All that practice from Target Test Prep was worth it (and I have 5 filled notebooks to prove it)! I felt like I only truly guessed on 2-3 questions. For break, I finished my other granola bar and drank my soda for a glucose boost, hit the restroom again and came back for round 3. For Verbal, I knew I was doing well as the passages got longer and longer and the sentences in the SC got more and more complex. A couple guesses here or there, but nothing too surprising. I simply followed the Manhattan methods and finished with 10 minutes to go.

I started getting nervous as I was filling out the questionnaire at the end, but after I clicked on the button to see my score, I was extremely happy to see my unofficial score of 760 with a Q51 and V41, and surprised to see an IR score of 7 (I'll take it!). I happily accepted the scores, got my printout, and went back to my car to call my wife to let her know the good news. After the call, I tuned my CD player to my victory song, Kurt Angle's WWE theme, and drove back home to receive my well-deserved elbow drops.

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by diegocml » Thu Mar 24, 2016 12:09 pm
Congratulations! That's an awesome result and trajectory!!
Diego

1st GMAT attemp: 410 (Q18 V27)
2nd GMAT attemp: 490 (Q35 V23)

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by fanoo » Fri Mar 25, 2016 12:03 am
WOW that was an amazing debrief. Congratulations.

My situation is similar to yours. I also have two kids (a boy and a girl) and I have a fultime 9am to 7pm job. So managing GMAT in between is a big challenge.

How did you manage to wake up so early everyday :)

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by KWizz » Fri Mar 25, 2016 7:13 am
fanoo,

It's all about getting your body conditioned to run on 4.5 hours of sleep. I encourage you to look up sleeping cycles and determine what works best for you. I've used sleepyti.me and it has helped me transform my sleeping schedule.

It does take some time to get used to, but you gain so much more time awake every day which can positively affect your studying, your family time, and your career!

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by [email protected] » Fri Mar 25, 2016 7:59 am
Congratulations and thanks for sharing!

Look forward to hearing about the next steps in your MBA journey.

Wish you all the best!
Veritas Prep | Veritas Prep Admissions Consultant

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Register for a free MBA Admissions Workshop!

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by veigapa16 » Wed Mar 30, 2016 7:38 am
Thanks for the review and congrats on a great score!

I too have been working through Manhattan and have not seen a substantial rise in score yet, so I'm open to give Target Test Prep a shot (especially because they are having a spring sale that ends tomorrow!)

When you went ripped through the Chapter tests at the beginning, did you try them on a Medium or Hard level? How did you determine which areas were problem areas?

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by KWizz » Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:13 am
veigapa16,

I did 1 medium test and 1 hard test for each chapter first. Target gives you goals for %'s on each difficulty, but for me, I found medium to be fairly easy. The hard ones were tough though if you hadn't gone through the chapter materials first.

After I did all the tests, I basically flagged every chapter that I didn't get an 80% or above on the hard difficulty, and went through the online chapter material with lots of video instructions and good strategies to beat certain types of questions. After that I would take another hard test for the flagged chapters. Once I started getting 80% + on everything, I just started creating custom hard tests to get more practice in prior to the real exam.

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by ebullient » Sat Apr 02, 2016 4:00 am
Congrats on a well-deserved score!!

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by natb10 » Wed Dec 28, 2016 7:23 am
Congrats on the great score! I bough the Mprep books as well and did the 9 week course, but I scored a 640 on the official test (Q47 V32). I could not get my Quant to budge from the 47 on the last 3 practice tests, so I am definitely looking into TTP now. What was your strategy for Verbal? I know I need to get that score up. Did you just read through the Mprep guides or did you purchase any additional material to develop the strategies and methods for Verbal?

Thanks!

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by [email protected] » Sat Jun 23, 2018 1:12 pm
KWizz wrote:First, a little background - this story will be somewhat different. I work full time in the United States (born and raised) as a Treasury Manager in a Fortune 500 company which is undergoing significant restructuring and moving headquarters to another city. I have an understanding wife and two energetic boys who love nothing more than to jump off the couch and elbow drop my face when I get home (the kids, not the wife... maybe the wife too). Having already earned my CFA designation in 2013, the allure of top 10 MBA schools in the new city finally drove me to sign up for the GMAT.

Before I go into the materials I used, I want to explain my mindset throughout this ordeal. While I was studying for the three levels of the CFA (3 years), I put my family through hell. I was never home, studying before and after work, and barely got to see my children awake as I would even spend entire weekends in the office or the library to study. I had that banker mentality and my family suffered for it. In the end, my family forgave me, but I promised myself that I would never fail as a father and a husband again.

My approach this time was to not sacrifice my family, but instead figure out how to maximize my own time awake. After finding out that there wasn't enough awake time to work long hours, be a good father and study for the GMAT, I decided that I had to increase my awake time. I researched REM cycles and other sleeping habits, and discovered that if I slept at 10:30pm, I could train myself to wake up at 3:00am and still feel almost 100% (the first week was absolutely terrible but my body eventually got used to it). Suddenly, I could go from 6.5 hours of sleep to 4.5 hours, and created 2 extra hours a day during the weekdays to study. My study schedule became: Get to work by 4:30am to study 2.5 - 3 hours in the morning and put the kids to bed at 9 and study an extra 1 - 1.5 hours in the evening. This was especially helpful since we had to use many weekends to take relocation tours of the new city and try to find a place to live.

I started my studying back on January 4th, and took my first GMAT Prep Exam and received a 670 (Q46, V36). Thinking I had a 700 in the bag with my planned studying time, I purchased the complete set of the Manhattan Guides and the Official Guide, and started cranking away at the Manhattan Guides through self study. It took about a month and a half to go through all of the books including IR and AWA. I downloaded the Manhattan syllabus from its website that included OG problem sets and I did all of homework sets: easy, moderate, and hard. On Manhattan, I found the books and strategies to be extremely helpful on Verbal. Throughout the studying process I used Manhattan's methods on all of my verbal practice questions. However, as I was the Manhattan CATs, I kept floating around the 650 - 670 mark. I found that while my verbal was improving, my quant simply was not.

Fast forward to late February - after my 5th CAT (various providers, but not the GMAT Prep Test #2) score of under 700, I was completely flabbergasted. "How can I be doing poorly on quant?" I had practiced generic macro strategies such as smart numbers and skipping questions, but I was still not completing the Quant section on time or I was forced to guess through the last few questions because I was getting stumped on so many tough questions.

Frustrated, I ended up looking through the beatthegmat website and the Reviews section and saw the Target Test Prep reviews. There was a promotion for a week-long free trial. I thought, "why not?" I took the diagnostic after choosing the "awesome score" target, and learned that I still had so many different weak points regarding the tougher quant material. More so, I saw detailed videos that explained what I was doing wrong in each of those questions. I knew right then and there that this was what I needed.

I ended up using the "short" study plan, and ripped through the chapter tests to further discover what my weak points were, putting aside Verbal for now. Target Test Prep's Dashboard is a phenomenal tool which tracks all the questions answered and identifies areas of weakness. Within each area, there is instruction material (all online) that details exactly the different types of questions that the GMAT would give you during the actual test, and various methods to defeat them. Manhattan did have a tracking system but it wasn't as integrated online to the chapter studies like Target Test Prep. By honing my weak chapters and converting them into strengths, I saw the effects on my practice scores. After getting a 750 (Q49, V44) on the GMAT Prep Test #2 on March 13, I immediately signed up to take the real thing a week later.

That last week, I continued to take custom practice exams (moderate & hard) from Target Test Prep in the early morning, IR/AWA practice during lunch (my boss was understanding and I told him that I would only do this for one week) and Official GMAT questions (moderate and hard) in the evening. I took the real exam on March 19th, and had all the anxiety problems that so many people experience (I can never sleep well before tests, and only managed to get 1-2 hours of sleep for this test). My wife cooked me a ham and egg sandwich that I shoveled down, and I brought 2 granola bars and a soda in a clear bag to the testing center for my 8:00am appointment.

Now for the test - AWA went smoothly (waiting on official AWA score now), and I had plenty of time to check errors, etc. As an aside, my AWA preparations were simply to get used to writing about 2-3 flaws in the argument in a structured manner (studied examples through online forums and the Manhattan book).

IR was a slobberknocker. I realized how tired I was and completely guessed on the first question after flubbing around for too long. I started panicking, and then I remembered that IR doesn't really matter and I cleared my mind. I breathed deeply and closed my eyes for a good 15-20 seconds, and started on Question 2. Feeling less pressure, I guessed on questions that I thought would take too long and concentrated on the ones I knew I could do quickly. My confidence grew and I finished with 2 minutes left to go. Break-time - I chowed down on one of my granola bars, went to the bathroom, and came back to the testing area.

Time for Quant! From Question 1, it felt like I was that guy from Limitless. I was identifying all the traps that the GMAT was dishing out, and finished with 6 minutes remaining. All that practice from Target Test Prep was worth it (and I have 5 filled notebooks to prove it)! I felt like I only truly guessed on 2-3 questions. For break, I finished my other granola bar and drank my soda for a glucose boost, hit the restroom again and came back for round 3. For Verbal, I knew I was doing well as the passages got longer and longer and the sentences in the SC got more and more complex. A couple guesses here or there, but nothing too surprising. I simply followed the Manhattan methods and finished with 10 minutes to go.

I started getting nervous as I was filling out the questionnaire at the end, but after I clicked on the button to see my score, I was extremely happy to see my unofficial score of 760 with a Q51 and V41, and surprised to see an IR score of 7 (I'll take it!). I happily accepted the scores, got my printout, and went back to my car to call my wife to let her know the good news. After the call, I tuned my CD player to my victory song, Kurt Angle's WWE theme, and drove back home to receive my well-deserved elbow drops.
Wow, what a phenomenal story! Your level of dedication to conquering the GMAT is sure to inspire many of your fellow test-takers on this forum.

It's pretty incredible how you were able maximize your "awake" time without sacrificing family time, despite the need to put in many hours of GMAT prep. So many test-takers struggle with balancing GMAT study with their other responsibilities, but it sounds like it was definitely worth all of the thought and effort you put into it -- a 51 Quant is amazing! It just goes to show, where there's a will, there's a way!

I'm so glad to hear the Target Test Prep course helped get you over the hump to achieve the goal you worked so hard for. Congrats again, and best of luck!

Scott Woodbury-Stewart
Founder and CEO
[email protected]

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by 7ferty » Thu Sep 13, 2018 4:05 am
KWizz wrote:veigapa16,

I did 1 medium test and 1 hard test for each chapter first. Target gives you goals for %'s on each difficulty, but for me, I found medium to be fairly easy. The hard ones were tough though if you hadn't gone through the chapter materials first.

After I did all the tests, I basically flagged every chapter that I didn't get an 80% or above on the hard difficulty, and went through the online chapter material with lots of video instructions and good strategies to beat certain types of questions. After that I would take another hard test for the flagged chapters. Once I started getting 80% + on everything, I just started creating custom hard tests to get more practice in prior to the real exam.

80% or above on the first go? Man! I'm going through all the tests and I've been hitting the target accuracy, but I haven't hit above 80% in all the Hard tests.
I've been doing all tests for every chapter.. ALL . It gets gruelling! Should I be concerned if i'm not hitting 80% on hard tests? Some of these take me 3mins each even if I'm solving them correct.

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by JWparker1 » Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:18 pm
Congratulations on an awesome score. This is an inspiration for me

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Congratulations! This is awesome!

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Congrats on the great score!

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Congratulations on the awesome score!
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