I decided to start seriously studying for the GMAT in August '17, and bought a Self-Prep Kit through Princeton Review, which included several books, prep software and some practice tests. I read the books, worked through problems and took the tests, reviewing my answers. I was scoring between 650-670 on my practice tests, way below my goal of 730, but didn't know how to bring my score up and barely saw it move no matter how many wasteful hours of studying I put in. I decided to hope for the best and took the test in early November, hoping to get in some R2 applications. Right before I took it, I sought out a tutor, thinking maybe a 1-2 hr last minute session could help me out. Through Thumbtack, I got in touch with Jeff Miller at Target Test Prep. I signed up for their free trial, and was able to access online resources such as their formula review guide. We also did a tutoring session the day before I took the GMAT which was helpful, but not enough at that point -- I got a 690 and cancelled my scores, knowing I could do better.
I decided to continue working with Jeff before retaking the test, as I liked the flex, month-by-month nature of Target Test Prep's flex program, with a comprehensive self-prep tutorial that I could supplement with tutoring sessions. I went through all of the quant chapters, taking thorough notes, doing about 70% of the chapter tests, and writing down all of the problems I got wrong with solutions. After about 2 months of (not very intense) studying, I decided to take a practice test and only scored a 650, which was very discouraging. Jeff advised me to create flashcards to facilitate studying while out and about, really commit to memorizing formulas, and to trust the process and stop taking practice tests until I was through all of the chapters. I followed his advice, starting putting in more hours, and by the end of February, right when I got through the full TTP program, I was so exhausted from studying almost 20/hrs a week on top of my demanding full-time job, that I decided I needed to just get the test over with. I signed up for the test, then nervously took a practice test, and scored a 740. I took 2 more practice tests, and both were in the 700s. As the test didn't feel any easier due to its adaptive nature, I was honestly shocked but very happy to see how much I had clearly learned.
Because my job takes up so much of my mental space, I wanted to have a few days to "cram" and focus solely on the GMAT before taking the test. I booked it for a Monday afternoon and took off work that day. I spent the better part of Saturday, Sunday, and Monday morning reviewing, but feeling more relaxed because of my recent practice test scores, I actually studied a lot less than planned, as I didn't want to stress myself out too much. I reviewed different types of questions and studied formulas; I focused on getting good sleep and making sure I was in the right frame of mind. I ended up scoring a 760 (48Q, 46V), which I was very happy about.
I really contribute my improvement to 1) how comprehensive the TTP quant course was -- it really forces you to learn each chapter and ingrains the information into your memory and 2) my tutoring sessions with Jeff, in which he introduced me to challenging questions that often came up on my practice tests/the real test, and helped explain solutions in ways that weren't conveyed through textbooks/courses. I definitely feel like the combo of software/tutoring sessions was beneficial and that while I learned a lot through the course, personally, I found in-person sessions to be the most useful and attribute my improved ability to recognize and confidently solve a wide variety of problems to these sessions. I can't believe the difference between Target and other programs I've tried and very happy with the outcome of my investment!
My GMAT Experience -- From 690 to 760
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