Tips and Story-780-Q50V48

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Tips and Story-780-Q50V48

by nate.schwalb » Sat Apr 07, 2018 9:43 am
3 Months of Study.
Naturally strong at Verbal (Native English Speaker, Writes Often for Work),
Medium Quant Abilities from Education/Work (Not scared of numbers, but not built for engineering)


"¢ Prep Psychology
o Be obsessed. When you are studying it is your life. Have a social life, but reduce it.
o Have a high bar. Build the belief that mediocrity is unacceptable.
"¢ Quant in 3 Stages
o Learn all the material slowly practicing anything you don't know until it is second nature
o Once you know the material, work on speed. Practice problems in blocks of 10 in under 20 minutes. Identify which subject areas and problem types slow you down/trip you up. Drill them.
o Once you can do hard problems quickly and accurately, move on to practice CATs. Get a feel for the rhythm of the test itself. Identify which problem types you can skip on the test.
"¢ SC (for Native Speakers)
o Go through the grammar material of your choice. (I used The Economis). Learn the most common mistake patterns and which red flags to look out for
o Practice problems differently than quant. Do 1-2 at a time. Then check the answer guide for quick feedback.
o Drill SC closer to test. Grammatical knowledge erodes faster than quant. (In my experience)
"¢ Materials:
o Read this guy's tips ( , in particular this on how to do practice problems ( ... blems.html)
o I used Target Test to learn quant ( Have I tried every courseware out there? No. Did this one work for me? Yes. Very comprehensive course and great user experience.
"¢ Test Taking Strategy
o Timing - Know what problem you want to be on by each 15 minute mark. Guess if you are behind.
o Know what problem types you will guess on immediately (e.g. similar triangles)
o Stay away from long division when you can. Make it into a fraction and reduce.
"¢ Test Taking Psychology
o Stay calm. You know this stuff. If you mess up, no big deal. You can take it again.
o Do a practice commute to the test center a day before, will keep you calmer day of.

I perhaps over-invested time and studied for 3 months. I graduated at a top university in the U.S. as an undergraduate, but my career after graduating has been meandering and lackluster. I believe that MBA programs might be disappointed with my mediocre career success given my high college brand. So, if an MBA admission committee were to doubt my overall intelligence on the application, then I would be done for. In other words, I hit this test with a chip on my shoulder-I had something to prove.

I scored a 780. Q50, V48. Obviously, my high overall score was driven by verbal. Yet, most of my studies focused on quant. For verbal, I came in with some natural advantages. I am a native English speaker and my job requires a fair bit of writing and proof-reading. I would not say that I know formal grammar well (I still don't know what all the tenses are called), but daily proof-reading for work certainly helped me improve my grammatical ear. So, my study time was 95%+ focused on quant. That said, verbal study time was waaay more valuable per-minute. Drilling SC (see tips above) every day for the 4-5 days before the test boosted my scoring. During the test, I also hovered over tough verbal problems often. I would select an answer carefully, and then start again from the top. On a few, I changed my mind. Ostensibly, these changes were for the better.

For quant, I reviewed a couple options (but by no means all) and chose Target Test Prep for a refresher on the material. I think this course helped a lot. In particular, what worked for me is that they reviewed the math conceptually and in-depth. For most sections they have a dozen or so quizzes to do after the reading (>10 problems each). It is time-intensive, but when you run over a hundred practice problems on a topic, you'll know that topic very well. They also let you flag problems where you had difficulty to review later. I hit most of the problems I got wrong the week before the test and it felt great to crush them on the return cycle. After I re-learned the material, I would practice for speed by doing OG problems in a sets of 10 or 20, starring any problem I got wrong or took too long on to review and re-do.

Some people swear by error tracking. I did this relatively lightly. Maybe if I had focused on this more I could have prepped more efficiently. I basically just (a) bookmarked problems I got wrong on Target Test Prep to re-do later (b) starred problems I got wrong in OG to re-do the next day (c) kept a minimal log of OG problems I got wrong in excel. After a small amount of excel tracking I noticed that I was consistently getting a particular problem type wrong (complex geometry problems). So, I decided that I would guess these immediately on the test. This would give me a bonus 2 minutes per guess on something I was likely to get wrong anyway.

One last tip: I find that I would sometimes forget the actual question on data-sufficiency questions. For example, the question might ask whether X<2 but I would misremember it as 'find X.' This is a silly way to lose points. I don't know if I ever completely beat this issue, but I reduced it by re-writing the question on my scratch pad twice by a (1) and (2) for each statement.