540 on the first practice test to 740 on the first real GMAT

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I started studying for the GMAT about 5 months ago with the Kaplan Premier book. I took the paper diagnostic test and scored a 540 and was absolutely crushed. Turns out, my low score wasn't due to lack of knowledge, but poor GMAT skills and not understanding the fundamentals of how to solve the DS problems.

I completed the Kaplan book, did every problem in there and kept a log of what I missed. I took an MBA.com CAT about halfway through Kaplan and scored a 690. Did another Kaplan at the end of the book and remained 690 (Q49, V40).

I decided based on recommendations here and elsewhere to splurge on the Manhattan set and the OG and I'm glad I did. The Manhattan books did a great job explaining problem types and shortcuts to speed problems up. For example, prior to Manhattan, I would convert everything to decimal instead of fraction and do long division instead of canceling factors and simplifying fractions. I had a 670 (45Q, 36V) on the Manhattan diagnostic CAT which I took before beginning the Manhattan books.

I completed the Manhattan math series since I felt that was where I struggled the most. After finishing the math books and all the practice problems there (as well as keeping a log) I started the OG PS section. The Manhattan Navigator was an awesome tool for helping me find weak and slow areas. On the Manhattan CAT I took, I didn't finish the quant section because several problems took me 4+ minutes to solve.

I did all the PS and skipped around the DS section for some last minute studying. I ended up taking the GMAT short notice (registered 2 days before the exam) because I had an unexpected day off work and the GMAT by me is only offered weekdays. I didn't feel prepared since I had so many problems in the OG I hadn't done and hadn't even looked at the Manhattan verbal material

On test day, I got to the test center about 40 minutes before my appointment. I was allowed to start early and did. The AWA went fine, I think I wrote about 700 words. Still waiting on my score. For the IR, the questions seemed too easy and I was worried I was making stupid mistakes. I finished the IR with about 3 minutes to go and took about 6 minutes of the 8 minute break.

Quant started off with a weighted averages problem which is one of my weaker areas. I froze and ended up taking nearly 3 minutes for the problem and felt awful. The next questions were easier and I thought for sure I was doing horribly since the questions were so easy. There were a few which challenged me more, but I still completed them in about 2 minutes. I finished quant with 0:45 remaining.

Took the next break, ate an apple, went to the bathroom.

Verbal was straightforward enough and aside from a few SC problems, also seemed very easy. I forced myself to slow down towards the end since I was well ahead of pace. I could have finished with 5 minutes remaining, but I really analysed the last 8 problems or so.

After completing the verbal and doing the demographics questions, my score was displayed:

IR 8
Q 48
V 44
Total 740 (97%)

Fortunately I was sitting down when it came up because I think I would have fallen over with shock. Considering none of my practice tests were above 690, I thought a 740 was out of the question.

For me, the big takeaways was that the Manhattan problems are harder than the real test and even the OG problems seemed harder than the ones I saw. Knowing when to make an educated guess and move on saved me big time. I'm glad I took the GMAT despite not feeling ready for it. Now time to focus on essays!

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by interviewbay22 » Fri Oct 10, 2014 6:19 am
Congratulations :)

You must feel relieved now that the GMAT is done. Have you decided the schools yest?

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by aayushi_92 » Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:55 am
Thats an inspiring story . Even I am heart broken now with my first diagonistic test .

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by rhino1987-2 » Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:48 am
interviewbay22 wrote:Congratulations :)

You must feel relieved now that the GMAT is done. Have you decided the schools yest?
Yes, it was a tremendous relief to be done. Got a 6 on the AWA too.

I am on a contract with work, so I will keep working while I study. As such, I'm limited on where I can go, so I'm not quite sure where I'm applying but the list of candidates right now (R2) is:

MIT (Sloan)
Northwestern (Kellog)
Penn (Wharton)
Virginia (Darden)
Michigan (Ross)

Also thinking about Hass and Stanford, but I don't think I want to go to California.

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by rhino1987-2 » Thu Oct 23, 2014 4:06 pm
Stephaniema wrote:Which one?
Which what?

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by Guilherme.carlos » Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:22 pm
Congrats! How many mock test you did?