IF IT BLEEDS, IT CAN BE KILLED! (760: 49Q, 45V)

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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First of all, I would like to thank all people who contribute content to beatthegmat, because without their aid my score simply wouldn't have been possible. Special thanks to Ron and Stacy from Manhattan for their precious blogs, strategy suggestions and opinions.

My scores on both math and verbal were mediocre when i started preparing for GMAT more than a year back. I was scoring in the early 600s. My first attempt was roughly a year before. I scored a 690, but i was not happy. My coach had stuck the number 730+ in my brain and i knew anything less than 730 would not satisfy me. In June 2011, I decided to retake GMAT. Due to travel loaded-hectic job schedule i kept studying sporadically and put in my serious efforts during the 15 days of leave, which i had preserved all thru the year for GMAT, just before the exam. During each of these 15 days i was either studying or sleeping - nothing else - even kept my phone off mainly to avoid interruptions from office and friends. I took a practice test every morning and solved practice questions during evenings and nights. I spent lot of time to review my test results, solving every wrong or unanswered question, especially for quant questions. My strategy was simple: i knew i was not among the wickedly smart pool - so i had no choice but to apply brute force to cross the 95th percentile. My top 3 suggestions about GMAT:

1. Escape velocity: the minimum amount or time you need to study everyday for the study to be effective and to improve your speed. Anyone can solve a quant question in 5 min or answer RC passage in 20 min. Tuning your brain to consistently generate GMATically correct answers under time pressure cannot happen if you take a break of more than a week from study or study very less each day for any number of days or months. You will surely lose 'lot of progress' if lengthy breaks (> 1 week) occur between study. Some workaround is must for people with demanding job routines.

2. Practice log: Use a spreadsheet to keep track of every question you solve and special comments if any associated with that question. A week or two before your exam, revisit your entire practice log, solving every question you answered wrong or had marked special. Its damn important to ensure that you dont repeat a mistake. At least 75% of questions are GMAT will have some strong similarity to your practice questions, and if you have perfected your mistakes then you will need less time and be more accurate. If you have time, you can do two to three iterations of your mistakes, refining the mistake list with each iteration. This has been my best asset for GMAT, specially for SC and quant. Preventing repetition of mistakes is more important than absolute number of questions solved.

3. My SC approach: SC strategy is simple: there are around 50 - 100 rules (number depends on your classification) that you must master thoroughly. Note that every rule has to be very clear to you, no scope for doubts. Eg, action nouns, complex gerunds and simple gerunds funda in parallelism. When you see a SC question you must quickly apply relevant rules and start PoE. You get a SC question wrong when you have a split and you dont know the rule to kill wrong side of the split. So if your brain fails to lookup relevant rules for a SC (in less than 10 sec) then your are in danger zone. Every time you get a SC wrong, take some time out and consciously master the rule your brain failed to look up. Finally, never trust your ear. Ear is your last resort, rules take the priority.

Enough of gyan, now coming to my experience:
I took my GMAT on 15th Nov 2011 and scored a 760 on my 2nd attempt. 49Q 45V. Insanely happy. Had scheduled the test appointment at 8.45 am. With the intention to get abundant sleep, i dived into bed early (around 10.30pm) yesterday, but the nervousness was high enough to keep me awake till 3am. (So FYI folks, if such thing happens, let it happen - you cannot do anything about it). Reached the center an hour early and started the test around 8.15am.

AWA: AWA went smooth as planned. Both argument and issue were pretty simple.

Quant: Quant was my Achilles heel. I had issues with timing. So i had planned in advance to sacrifice questions along the way as per my 'question:time' checkpoints rather than sacrifice a bunch of them in the end. I had practiced this strategy well on the 6 Manhattan CATs. The quant section started with a toughie. Tried equation solving first and failed, then tried number plugging and solved it, but took 4 min. From then on the quant section went pretty smooth till the 25th question. I had the gut feeling that i was doing good, cracking tough questions which used to pop up occasionally. I also adhered to my 'question:time' checkpoints without sacrificing any questions. But the nasty party of quant section was from 26 to 37. All problems were real hard, with functions, graphs, non standard word questions, etc, needing 3-5 min to solve. I had to make couple of educated guesses using the PoE and DS tricks, but i ensured that i made no two consecutive guesses. At the end of the quant section i was in mixed moods. I was satisfied that i had left no unmakred questions but at the same time was disappointed because of the rush at the end.

Verbal: Today was one of my best verbal days. (as per my practice tests: less than 40 = bad, 40-42 good, 43+ best). The verbal section was a smooth sail. I had the strong feeling that i was 'nailing' the questions, especially SC. I never lagged at any part of the section and always stuck with my 'question:time' checkpoints, finishing the test with 30 sec to spare. SC questions were hard, testing multiple concepts at the same time. I dont remember seeing any idioms, and there was a strong bias toward meaning clarity. There were few (2 or 3) long or convoluted SC questions and majority were medium or short sentences, but i felt shorter ones were more tricky. CR questions were standard. On many CR questions, i was stuck with 2 choices with very narrow difference or scope shifts, after PoEing 3 choices - needing bit extra time and attention. RC was casual. No particularly painful passages. One very important thing about the the verbal section. I did not get a boldface question at all. This sent shivers down my spine when i was about to click the report scores button. So note that boldface question not showing up has no co-relation with the magical 700 level.

This is how i ended up with a 760: a shaky quant section and a confident verbal section.

Tests:
800 Score - 5 tests
Manhattan - 6 tests
Kaplan - 3 tests
Knewton free test
Veritas free test
Average score was between 720 and 730 on my practice tests, and had scored 750 on last 3 practice tests (2 manhattan, 1 kaplan) i took. My confidence was pumped up and so i did not take any tests 2 days prior to the exam. I kept my cool. I used to just revise my mistakes from practice log or read theory books such as Manhattn SC or Manhattan math books, LR Bible,quant theory. I did not touch any fresh content on the last 2 days.

Here is a quote that summarizes my GMAT prep:

The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights. - Muhammad Ali

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GMAT Score:720

by vineeshp » Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:45 pm
Congrats. that's a really awesome score and with good essays you can aim really high!
Vineesh,
Just telling you what I know and think. I am not the expert. :)

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by AbhiJ » Wed Nov 23, 2011 2:44 am
What was your source of SC practise and concepts.

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by manoj_rvce » Wed Nov 23, 2011 6:22 pm
AbhiJ

Manhattan SC was my bible for SC. I read it several times over. Whenever i used to fault on a SC question, i used to go back and refresh the rule i had forgot that lead to my mistake.. i did solve some 500 questions from 1000 sc and some other SC stuff i got from my gmat coach.

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by neelgandham » Fri Nov 25, 2011 10:25 am
760 \m/ congos berather !! good luck !
Anil Gandham
Welcome to BEATtheGMAT | Photography | Getting Started | BTG Community rules | MBA Watch
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by patanjali.purpose » Fri Nov 25, 2011 3:31 pm
Hi,

Great Score.

Many congratulations.

Need some advice - I am currently struggling with CR. Could you pls share your insights how shall I prepare for CR.

Thanks

Patanjali

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by manoj_rvce » Fri Nov 25, 2011 5:58 pm
Patanjali,

Have you thoroughly studied the PowerScore LAST/CR Logical Reasoning Bible(popularly known as LR Bible)?
Perfect the techniques mentioned in that book. Practice questions limited but excellent.. Try all of them out..
Next, LR bible has "Incorrect Answers" for every question type. Whenever you err on a CR question, find out the trap to which you fell prey, eg scope shift, exaggerated ans, etc.. This will help you to improve your accuracy..

And of course, lots of practice is the ultimate key!

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by patanjali.purpose » Sat Nov 26, 2011 12:09 am
manoj_rvce wrote:Patanjali,

Have you thoroughly studied the PowerScore LAST/CR Logical Reasoning Bible(popularly known as LR Bible)?
Perfect the techniques mentioned in that book. Practice questions limited but excellent.. Try all of them out..
Next, LR bible has "Incorrect Answers" for every question type. Whenever you err on a CR question, find out the trap to which you fell prey, eg scope shift, exaggerated ans, etc.. This will help you to improve your accuracy..

And of course, lots of practice is the ultimate key!
Hi,

Thanks. I have studied CR bible but even then not able to score well. I understand what each question types mean and possible traps, but even thn accuracy is terrible!!!!

I try your advice again. If you have any more insight, pls suggest.

Many thanks.

Patanjali

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by jayoptimist » Mon Nov 28, 2011 8:47 pm
Excellent. Its a motivation for others.

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by rahulgondane » Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:50 am
Hey Manoj,

Congrats on such a superb score!!

Very informative and inspirational write up..
Cheers,
Rahul

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by ReyWilli » Tue Nov 29, 2011 12:12 pm
Congrats. That was an insightful recap of your stategy.
GMATJunky

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by redr8er » Tue Nov 29, 2011 5:36 pm
Nice work. Of the aforementioned 50-100 grammar rules, did you find them all in the MGMAT SC guide? Also, you mentioned PowerScore CR as opposed to MGMAT. I assume you've looked at them both, so do you believe PS is significantly better than MGMAT CR?

Congrats again.

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by manoj_rvce » Tue Nov 29, 2011 6:57 pm
redr8er,

Ya, MGMAT SC guide is the most comprehensive.. It has all the SC rules that are tested on the GMAT.

For CR, Power Score is better than MGMAT RC. It is exhaustive and covers specific tips for variety of questions. My favorites in the PowerScore were the "incorrect answers" for any given question type. This proved helpful in PoE.

And MGAMT's method of making notes did not go down well with me. I just did not have that much time.

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by gaks » Tue Nov 29, 2011 7:34 pm
Thats a great score. Congratulations and Best of luck for the applications.

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by JS_2 » Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:54 pm
Congratulations for a great score!
I am currently scoring in the early 600s and my quant score averages 36-40.
What would u suggest for improving accuracy and time management in quant??