Beat the GMAT! 760 in just over 4 weeks

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Beat the GMAT! 760 in just over 4 weeks

by tlennon140 » Tue Nov 28, 2017 3:03 am
Hi guys,

I found this on my computer this morning and thought I'd post. I took the GMAT in December 2016 and scored a 760 after just over 4 weeks of revision. This was definitely made possible by my background as a Maths major at university, however there were certain key resources I used to supercharge my score and points I missed in my actual exam, which I've detailed below

I decided to take the GMAT test over two years ago. Based on advice in this forum, I bought 2 pieces of study material:

- The Official 2015 GMAT package, including Verbal and Quantitative Workbooks
- The Kaplan 800 Book with the Kaplan Math workbook included

I took the diagnostic test back in October 2015 and over a few sittings and got roughly 75% correct in the Quant section and 70% correct in the Verbal section. I then kind of left it and didn't come back to it until a year later.

Fast forward to November 2016, I made sure every hour in a week during this month was utilised with maximum efficiency (aside from those spent commuting...because the London Underground). I reduced my average daily sleep time to 6 hours (back to 8 the night before the exam) - I woke up routinely at 7am and was in deep sleep by 1am (monitored using the sleep cycle app on iOS), in order to get the required number of hours of work needed. I ran 5+ km at least once a week, eliminated anabolic exercise (strength training fatigued me too much, and required too much food + sleep), and didn't really drink (maybe the odd single pint after work now and again).

I added two other revision tools to the books that I bought last year. In total, the resources that I used this past month were:

- The Official GMAT Guide 2015, with Verbal and Quant Workbooks
- The Kaplan 800 series with the Kaplan Math workbook
- GMATprep software - free software from the GMAT site - contains timed practice questions, and 2 free Practice tests, complete with pretty accurate scores.

As an aside, I am in no way being paid to promote any of these materials (I wish). I got lucky that every penny of the £80 I spent on prep was golden, thanks to info from this site

Bottom line is: the Official books teach you the question patterns, the 800 series and Kaplan math workbook give you the toolkit to tackle the toughest of questions, and examPAL is a good and (relatively) fun way of learning the basics and practicing questions using a computer rather than on paper.

OG 2015

I didn't actually use either of the workbooks. Due to interviews, work and moving house a day before the exam, I just ran out of time. However, the OG Guide was brilliant - in terms of the Verbal at least. All Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning and Sentence Correction problems follow a similar question template - practice enough of the OG questions, and you begin to recognize the question type, and how to solve it. In terms of the Math, I found that having an updated version of the OG may be more helpful. The first few questions of the 2016 GMAT really tripped me up - the wording and style of questions were very different to what I'd become accustomed to from OG revision. Maybe this is just me, or maybe it's to do with a modernisation of the exam - either way, why take the risk?

In terms of using the book, I performed the diagnostic test a year ago, then this year systematically worked through the problem sections, keeping an error log for each question I'd done incorrectly - that I'd answered it incorrectly, and why. This especially is useful for problem solving, data sufficiency and sentence correction, where there are a finite number of rules being tested, and a certain way that the questions are asked. After working my way through all the problem sets, I figured it was time to stop wasting time looking at questions incorrectly, and use the best possible way to solve these problems. I moved onto the Kaplan 800.

Kaplan 800

This book was critical to my success. I wouldn't have gotten as far as I had without it. The information and ideas are very well presented, and it gets the across really easily. Again, as with the OG, I worked my way through the examples in the books section by section, and kept an error log.

This book takes all the credit for improving my Sentence Correction score from 40% (including the easy and medium bin questions) to 95+%. It breaks down all the complex idioms and examples of parallelism (the most common pitfall and the easiest way to pick up/drop points) - really wouldn't have breezed the Verbal had it not been for this book. I left the online question bank for right before the exam, when I needed to adapt to a computer based interface rather than a book. Still, after this book, my Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension scores were pretty low (~55% correct), and nothing was clicking - I really needed the info broken down in such a way that it could filter into my head, which leads to....

I found this gem of a site on a random, despairing Google Search on the GMAT (one of those "Endlessly googling my problem is bound to do something, right?" times).

The main points I took away from it were:

Always read the whole passage first in RC, and as you're reading write a summarising point for each paragraph, e.g.
P1: Intro: historical view that women's suffrage movement caused impact in civil rights
P2: Refutes view, states impacts were only longer term, Evidence 1, Evidence 2
P3: Conclusion, adds alternative POV"

In Critical Reasoning, read the question first, then the text

The practice questions were nice, and I didn't really get a chance to check out the Maths content. I must also say that I just used the free trial - the value I took from the site was from the free lesson videos they offered. However, they offer for a $100 or so some extra practice questions, or more importantly, extra CAT tests.

In terms of my prep, I focused most strongly on the Verbal section. I've performed fairly well in Maths throughout my life, and (wrongly) at first thought that it would get me through the Quant section just fine. I spent the vast amount of my revision time on Verbal.
I'd recommend that you read as many BeattheGMAT blog posts as possible - everyone has something valuable to add. Even if someone's particular writing style or writing tone puts you off , persist through it - if you find one thing that adds just 10 points to your score, then it's worth it.

Based on advice here, I was recommended to skip the AWA prep in the practice exams and do them independently, and instead stick an extra hour of hard, timed practice questions before the IR, Quant and Verbal of the CAT, to boost my endurance. I think this is a great idea, especially as the AWA doesn't go towards your score.

I took the two practice tests, one 8 days before the exam to see if I needed to push the exam back for an insignificant $10 fee (relative to the $300 cost of sitting the exam, at the time of writing), and the other the day before the exam (it's highly recommended from examPAL that you do this 2 days before the exam and take the day before off to clear your mind and get in peak condition...but I had to move house, lost my wallet and ID and had a general nightmare, so the day before it was).

My results were:

CAT #1 - 720
CAT #2 - 760
GMAT - 760

Looking back, the key thing I would have done differently would have been to buy the updated OG (2016) at the time, as the style of Quant questions seemed to differ slightly and I definitely got the first 3 questions wrong, limiting the Quant score.

And as an aside, if you're in London and fancy a one-to-one chat about the GMAT / strategies / where to go with it, drop me a message. I'll be happy to meet up for a coffee and a chat to maybe help your score!

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by praneethkalluru » Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:38 pm
Thanks a lot !! This helped me a lot.


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by ceilidh.erickson » Tue Oct 16, 2018 8:42 am
I would strongly urge everyone on this forum NOT to follow this poster's sleep regimen. This poster may think that reducing sleep contributed to his success, but it likely did more harm than good.
tlennon140 wrote: Fast forward to November 2016, I made sure every hour in a week during this month was utilised with maximum efficiency (aside from those spent commuting...because the London Underground). I reduced my average daily sleep time to 6 hours (back to 8 the night before the exam) - I woke up routinely at 7am and was in deep sleep by 1am (monitored using the sleep cycle app on iOS), in order to get the required number of hours of work needed.
The GMAT is not a test you can cram for. Very broadly speaking, cramming stores a lot of information in the short-term memory. This is helpful when you're taking a chemistry exam the next day - cram lots of information in, spit it back a short time later. But success on the GMAT requires real knowledge, lodged in a connected way in your long-term memory.

There is still a lot that we don't know about the science of sleep, but one thing we do know is that sleep is crucial for memory consolidation. The less you sleep, the less you retain. So if you're staying up late to studying, not only is it hurting your health, but it's almost useless for long-term GMAT performance: you're not very likely to hold onto what you learned anyway.

More here: ... f=img&te=1 ... 214830.htm

In short: you need to be well-rested before studying for your brain to be receptive to learning, and you need to rest after studying for your brain to encode that learning. DON'T SKIMP ON SLEEP WHILE STUDYING!!!
Ceilidh Erickson
EdM in Mind, Brain, and Education
Harvard Graduate School of Education