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A tale of 3 GMAT attempts: 650 to 730

This topic has 2 member replies
ridd Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
03 Dec 2016
2 messages

A tale of 3 GMAT attempts: 650 to 730

Post Sun Dec 04, 2016 2:40 pm
tl;dr - Practice, Manhattan, Kaplan, and E-gmat got me to 730. Will it be enough?

#My First post ever! Sorry guys for the long post. But well, needed to get a lot of things out of my system.


I am a 24 year old Indian male. I have a non-engineering degree from an engineering college (BITS) Razz Don't ask how I got there. But BITS being BITS, got placed on campus and have a relatively chilled out (read boring) Consulting job. (Only good part is there is a lot of international exposure - US and Europe) Have been in the same company for 2+ years. But for the past 6-8 months I have been feeling that I'm just going with the flow, doing the same work again and again. Everyone is happy with my progress it seems except ME. So yeah I decided I needed a change and hence MBA and GMAT. (As someone has rightly said Indians who get bored of their 9 to 5 jobs have only 3 options - MBA, IAS and Startup) And my targets Harvard, Stanford and Wharton! (always dream big!)

1st attempt

While I was still in college in 2013 I took the GMAT my final year. I didn't study much, but I thought hey why not. Well needless to say it was quite humbling. I got a 650 (Q50, V28).

My real journey begins 3 years later in 2016. A journey of 4 months....

2nd attempt

After a lot of dilly dallying around, I started my prep in Aug 2016. I had already booked a slot for Aug end for my GMAT but rescheduled it to Oct 1st 2016. From my previous effort I already knew that Quant would be my strong suit (as it is for all Asians) so my plan was to spend 90% of my time on Verbal.

I researched a lot on the books to study and ended up buying almost everything. Following are the books that I bought and studied:

1. Manhattan SC
2. Manhattan CR
3. Kaplan Premier 2017
4. Official Guide 2017
5. Kaplan 800 (did not study it)

The First three weeks of August, I spent studying the Manhattan SC and CR books making copious notes. Personally, the CR book was fine and easy to understand but the SC one was out of my league. Reflecting back I think it was the wrong book to start with. Since my verbal was poor (at-least by GMAT standards) I should've started with something simpler. Anyway, kept on with it. Tried to mug up as much of it as I could.

Simultaneously, I think from the mid of August I started doing CR and SC problems from OG 2017. Obviously I was not timing myself, so more or less I was getting 70% questions correct. I did some RC questions too but I kinda thought studying won't help me with RC (big mistake). Finally, in the last week of August I finished the Maths part of the Kaplan Premier.

After a month or so of studying started with my mocks....

Sept 5: GMATPrep 1 - 690 (Q50, V34) - No essay, No IR (gutted!)
Sept 6: GMATPrep 2 - 730 (Q49, V40) - Definitely a fluke, did not know it then though, No essay, No IR
Sept 10: Manhattan CAT 1 - 650 (Q41, V37) - No essay, No IR
Sept 11: Kaplan CAT 2 - 700 (Q49, V37) - No essay, No IR

I was consistently getting 12 - 15 questions wrong in Verbal and could not quite figure out what mistakes I'm doing. So I turned to E-GMAT verbal course! Bought their Verbal Course (I know $199 but I was desperate). I loved their course. Their study material was interactive and beautifully explained in lay man terms especially the SC section, not at all as technical as Manhattan SC was. I finished that course in like 10 days. I was studying like 4-5 hours every single day. That actually helped me understand all my Manhattan SC notes. In retrospect though I should have given some more time to the E-Gmat course. But at that point of time, it boosted my confidence. So I jumped right back into Mocks believing my scores would drastically improve, alas it was not so....

Sept 17: Manhattan CAT 2: 650 (Q46, V33) - No essay, No IR
Sept 21: Kaplan CAT 3: 680 (Q49, V35) - No essay, No IR
Sept 22: Manhattan CAT 3: 600 (Q42, V32) - Post this I just lost it with Manhattan it was just too tough!!
Sept 23: Kaplan CAT 1 (diagnostic): 720 (Q49, Q40) IR 6 First test with AWA and IR
Sept 25: GMATprep Exam Pack 1 (Exam 3): 730 (Q50, V38) IR 8
Sept 27: Kaplan CAT 4: 700 (Q49, V37) IR 5
Sept 28: Kaplan CAT 5: 680 (Q49, V35) IR 5
Sept 29: GMATprep 1 (retest): 710 (Q50, V36) IR 5
Sept 30: GMATPrep Exam Pack 1 (Exam 4): 720 (Q50,V38) IR8

Also I bought the questions pack from GMAC and finished all the Verbal questions. Again, whenever I was un-timed or was solving the questions in non-test conditions I was getting 70-85% questions correct. So looking at all this, I expected atleast a 720!

Also shoutout to Chineseburned for the AWA template. He's the best (http://gmatclub.com/forum/how-to-get-6-0-awa-my-guide-64327.html)

OFFICIAL GMAT - Oct 1: 700 (Q49, V35) AWA: 5.5 IR: 6 .... I was fucked up after this so fucked up!! Went on Binge-drinking for a day or two. Quant was actually easy, Verbal I have blanked it out of my head. So where did I go wrong?

3rd attempt

After the dust settled or shall I say the alcoholic haze, the first thing I did was book the slot for my next GMAT. That's the only thing that makes me study! So I settled on Dec 3rd as I wanted to have a chance of applying in the Round 2s and it was the only evening slot available (I function much much better at night!) for the rest of the month. (Side note: The GMAT centre is like 500 metres away from my place)

Anyway what to do next? Where did I go wrong?

Two things I think: Practice and Timing myself (My accuracy was always higher in Practice questions compared to Timed tests! Always!)

Thanks to Manhattan people here. They had this - https://www.manhattanprep.com/gmat/blog/2014/09/23/how-to-set-up-your-gmat-scratch-paper/ and I have used this in every paper henceforth. It has worked wonders for me. In the Official GMAT exam I was so slow in the Verbal Section that I had to guess the last two questions. That has never happened after that exam.

Again I started my prep (after wasting 15 days in Oct) by ordering books and figuring out which mock tests to attempt

Study materials for this attempt:

1. Verbal OG 2017
2. Kaplan 800

Started with some Mocks:

Oct 16: Princeton GMAT 5: 690 (Q49 V37) IR 5
Oct 23: Princeton GMAT 6: 680 (Q48 V38) IR 4

I wondered after this have I reached a plateau? Anyway just started with the Verbal OG book after this and finished that in 10 days. I was happy that I was getting like 85-90% correct in all three sections, but again could not time the paper questions perfectly. Also its level was lower than the OG 2017.

Then came my offsite to Europe. Thankfully I did not let my work get in the way of my prep. I took the Kaplan 800 and managed to finish it in 10 days I was there. Very tough questions but dubious answers I feel especially in the CR and the RC sections. Good practice nevertheless. I managed around 85% accuracy in SC and ~60% in the other two. Hilarious side note: I must be the only one who has solved Kaplan 800 on the D-Bahn at 275 Km/hr Razz

Back to mock tests.....

Nov 18: Princeton GMAT 6: 650 (Q43, V38) IR 4
Nov 19: Princeton GMAT 7: 710 (Q48, Q40) IR 6 Hmm.. Plateau?
Nov 20: GMATPrep 2 - 740 (Q50, V40) IR 8
Nov 21: Princeton GMAT 8: 720 (Q46, Q44) IR 6 - Gave the sections separately that's why I think I got such a high Verbal score

Was feeling confident after these because even though the scores don't reflect it I was consistently getting 32+ questions correct in the Verbal section. So went back to Manhattan.

Nov 22: Manhattan CAT 4: 700 (Q44, V40) IR 6
Nov 23: Manhattan CAT 5: 750 (Q48, V45) IR 4 (Was blown away by the verbal score but got 8 incorrect, that can't be right,right?!)
Nov 24: Manhattan CAT 6: 730 (Q51, V39) IR 5 (Same no. of incorrect answers V39, Wow!)

Moving on to the final week of mocks. During this time-period I did not study too much I just gave mocks. And this practice helped a lot. For example in SC, I felt that I did not have to focus too much on grammar, answers just came naturally to me as I was finally able to understand the meaning of the sentences. (E-Gmat's philosophy here, stress on meaning)

Nov 27: GMATPrep Exam Pack 2 (Exam 5): 760 (Q50, V44) IR 8 (My target score! best part 5 incorrect in Verbal!)
Nov 28: Veritas Free test: 720 (Q51, V38) IR 7
Nov 29: GMATPrep Exam Pack 1(Exam 3) retest: 760: (Q51, V41) IR 8 (Good score but got 9 incorrect in Verbal)
Dec 1: GMATPrep Exam Pack 2 (Exam 6): 740 (Q49, V41) IR 8 (Weird, V41 with 5 incorrect Neutral)
Dec 2: GMATPrep Exam Pack 1(Exam 4) retest: 730 (Q50, V38) IR 8 (8 incorrect in Verbal Neutral)

Anyway, I was uber confident at the start of the week of scoring a 740-750 at the start of the week, less so after the final mock. But went ahead with my usual schedule.... did not revise too much.... and walked to the GMAT centre.

OFFICIAL GMAT - Dec 3: 730 (Q49, V40) IR 8 AWA: awaited (Phew! Hoped for a 740/750.... but beggars can't be choosers I guess) - It was actually a very tough paper especially the quant, barely managed to finish it in time.

Now that's done and dusted, but still confusion prevails in my mind. Good enough to apply to my dream colleges? I know application matters the most but will 750/760 make a bolder statement? And the other question being when to apply? I just have 2+ (29 months) of experience. Should I wait and strengthen my application?

Any thoughts/comments will be appreciated. Thank you.[/b][/u]

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Neltranii Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
01 Mar 2011
6 messages
Post Mon Dec 05, 2016 10:36 pm
congratulations!!! that's a great score.

i do think that a few more years of experience would sort of 'ripen' your profile for MBA programs, as you would likely have more experience to share to your classmates --- but who knows..? the way you seem to have exerted superhuman efforts in combining work and review is certainly very impressive. but at 24, I'd still say wait a few years.

but excellent foresight at getting the GMAT stress out of the way. you have good enough time then to strategise on application

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ridd Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
03 Dec 2016
2 messages
Post Sat Dec 17, 2016 2:02 am
Thanks! Yes I agree with you that I should wait a couple of years to build my profile. Plus there's the Trump factor for US jobs now.

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