My 14-month process is finally over! 640 --> 740 GMAT

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My 14-month process is finally over. I started studying for the GMAT in December 2017 and have finally achieved (and surpassed) my target score! I've been lurking on this site for the entirety of that time and it has helped immensely. There are many things I wish I knew during this process, so the least I can do is share my story. Hopefully this will help some of you that are still working towards your goal.

In December 2017 I started light reviewing to familiarize myself with the GMAT. I ended up signing up for Manhattan Prep's in person course which consisted of 9 lessons every Saturday. Overall, Manhattan Prep's course was very helpful to build a strong foundation. Their verbal and quant materials definitely provide you with the framework to get a good score. However, I didn't think that they were nearly in-depth enough for the expensive price of the course + online materials.

I studied on my own for another two months after the course ended. I took the 6 Manhattan Prep practice exam's and scored between 670 -700. Although this was below my target score of 720, I decided to try my luck on a real test in April 2018. I ended up getting a 640 (42Q/37V). I was disappointed. However, it was my first exam and I decided to take the test again.

I looked into tutors and found a relatively cheap one on Wyzant. I knew about some other tutors that were more expensive but I was hesitant to spend the money. I figured I could get 2 lessons for the price of one from the tutor I hired. We started working together and I was extremely underwhelmed. However, I kept working on my own and ended up taking the OG practice exams 1-6 and scoring between 700-750 each time. I stuck with the tutor and took the exam in June 2018.

Come test day I was pretty nervous. The first quant question hit me and I froze. It completely threw me off and I was overwhelmed. Verbal felt like it went well so I was hoping that would boost my score. I wrapped up my essay and hit 'Finish'.

When '670' (45Q/37V) popped up on my screen. I sat there blinking, not believing what I was seeing. After months of paying a tutor and intense studying, my score had only gone up 30 points. My verbal was unchanged and my composite was well below my practice scores. I felt utterly dejected and considered quitting.

I took the entire July off and traveled. A friend who had scored well recommended Target Test Prep (TTP) and specifically Jeff Miller for a Quant tutor. I reached out to Jeff and he set up some time to chat. I told him about my circumstances. He set up a tutor session and I signed up for the $1 trial for TTP. I was absolutely FLOORED from the first session with Jeff. It was night and day with my previous tutor. His way of thinking and tackling problems had me looking completely different at problems I had seen a million times before. We also went through countless problems that I had never seen in my OG materials. We ended up meeting for 1 hour a week but he was extremely flexible when I wanted to meet for additional time during the week. We even did some SC stuff that TTP has been working on.
As for the TTP site, I cannot stress how comprehensive it is. I worked through each chapter and their practice quizzes. It was incredibly in-depth and there are a TON of questions to work through. TTP's equation cheat sheet was also a great resource to review when I was commuting to work each day. It is by far the best resource for getting a top quant score.

For verbal, I worked through OG material and reviewed every problem possible. I looked up countless explanations on this site. I also made PowerPoints with tough problems and included my understanding in the notes section. This made it easy to re-review problems at any time.

I took the 6 OG exams again and scored between 750-780 each time. I reviewed every problem in-depth (including the ones I got correct). I decided to take the test in January 2019 hoping to achieve my target score.

I was extremely nervous all week leading to my test date. I was practically shaking when the first question popped up. However, I had seen the first few questions in either tutor sessions with Jeff or on TTP. I kept working through Quant, was able to settle in, and felt extremely comfortable the rest of the way. Yes, the questions were not exactly the same but I had SEEN so many similar types of problems that I was able to easily work through them. Quant felt like an absolute breeze. Verbal on the other hand felt OK. I struggled a bit with timing and had to rush through the last 6-7 problems.

I ended up with a 720 (49Q/40V). I had done it! I achieved my target score! I called Jeff and walked him through my experience. He ended up convincing me to take the test one more time because he thought if I tightened up my timing on verbal, I could do even better. What was another 2 weeks in a 14-month process?!

I light reviewed for another 2 weeks and took the exam a few days ago. Quant felt the same but I made sure to stay focused on my pacing for verbal. I ended up finishing that section on time. When I hit the button to see my score, '740' popped up (Q49/V41). For the second time in my GMAT experience, I sat in disbelief. This time however, it was in pure joy! I'm so grateful that Jeff convinced me to take the exam again!

TLDR:

Manhattan Prep is a good place to start to get a solid GMAT foundation.

If you want a top score in Quant, definitely use TTP. It is by FAR the best resource for quant. If you are thinking about getting a tutor, I cannot recommend Jeff Miller enough. He really helped me take my quant to the next level. I wish I had used both these resources from the get go.

Review every problem as in-depth as possible. Make sure to review EVERY question (right or wrong) until you really understand them. This will help you master the material and more efficient ways to tackle problems. I didn't start reviewing correct answers until after my second official exam - how foolish I was!

Final thought - if you suffer from test anxiety and tend to perform worse come test day, the best remedy is to get more prepared. After using TTP / Jeff's tutoring, Quant felt very easy. My nerves disappeared and I felt super focused and comfortable.

Good luck to all of you still working to get your target score!

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by [email protected] » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:36 am
Congrats! I'm super pumped that team TTP was able to help you hit your score goal!!

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by Bara » Wed Feb 27, 2019 4:54 pm
Congrats! Excellent work on the score improvement!
Bara Sapir, MA, CHt, CNLP
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