From 530 to 560 to 690 (Q49, V35)

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From 530 to 560 to 690 (Q49, V35)

by jonnyutz » Thu Dec 01, 2016 11:54 am
After finishing my GMAT yesterday, I feel like I must share the whole process as I read many of these stories to keep me going. My journey took 7 years with lots of breaks and frustrations. My aim has always been to get into a part-time program on the West Coast (Berkeley, UCLA, USC). Here is the short story:

When I was still in college in 2008 I took the GMAT my junior year. I didn't study much, but I thought hey why not. Well needless to say it was quite humbling. I got a 530 (Q40, V21).

I took a break and decided to actually put real effort behind my studying this time. In 2012, I signed up for the Manhattan GMAT live course in Chicago. It was a fun class, but it was very heavily focused on the quant section. As you can see before, my problem was really in the verbal. I read all of the verbal books that were provided by MGMAT. After 9 weeks of studying I got a 560 (Q43, V25). I was so disappointed that I lost all of my motivation. I really thought maybe this test really tested aptitude and I just didn't have it together.

After 4 years of working I decided to give it one more shot. I really read a lot on the forums on the best way to self study. I didn't want to spend another $1000 or more on a course to find out that my score went up 30 points. So I created my own study plan which consisted of the following:

- E-GMAT Sentence Correction Course (completed the course at least 6 times and took notes. **I am a native speaker and this course was still VERY helpful)
- MGMAT Sentence Correction Guide (read this all the way through 2 times)
- Powerscore Critical Reasoning Bible (read this all the way through 2 times)
- Kaplan GMAT Math Workbook (just completed this one time through with all practice exercises. Just used to review)
- Ordered subscription for The Economist (read about 4 large articles per week)
- Ordered subscription for Scientific American (read about half of the articles per month)
- Read To Kill A Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby (recommended from another user)
- GMAT OG 2017 (finished every problem in the book once, and ones I missed I did twice or three times)
- GMAT OG Verbal Guide 2017 (did all Sentence Correction twice, didn't complete RC or CR sections)

After I completed the above I started really hitting the GMAT PREP mock exams. I ordered the Exam Pack 1 which includes GMAT PREP 3 and 4 tests. I received the following scores on these:

GMAT PREP 1 - 710 (Q47, V41)
GMAT Prep 2 - 700 (Q47, V39)
GMAT Prep 3 - 610 (Q43, V31)
GMAT Prep 4 - 650 (Q45, V35)
(2 repeat questions)

GMAT Prep 3 and 4 really felt a lot more difficult in the verbal sections. The questions got really tough, but turns out it was good practice.

Actual GMAT: The quant felt a lot easier than GMAT Prep 3 and 4. The verbal felt slightly easier, but on par with GMAT Prep 1 and 2. The IR felt a LOT easier on the actual GMAT than the GMAT prep. I wonder if they made it easier...?

Actual GMAT score: 690 (Q49, V35). This was a higher quant score than I ever received on any practice exam, and an average verbal score from my exams. I was so relieved to have this score and now I can finally feel competitive and apply into my desired schools. I plan to apply R1 for fall 2018. I really recommend the curriculum above as I really feel like each piece worked to complete the whole picture. I studied 2 hours every weeknight (worked full time) and 2 hours each morning and 2 hours in the evening on the weekend. It took about 12 weeks to complete the above at that rate. By the way I became a bit obsessed with the exam and was totally distraught when I saw the GMAT Prep 3 pop up with a 610. At that time I took 5 days off to relax which was very helpful. I would recommend this if needed. However, I should say I went to Europe for a week where I still took my GMAT books with me.

Thanks to all that post to this site, it was extremely helpful and I wouldn't know how to get this score without it!
Last edited by jonnyutz on Mon Dec 05, 2016 8:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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by GMATinsight » Fri Dec 02, 2016 6:06 am
jonnyutz wrote:After finishing my GMAT yesterday, I feel like I must share the whole process as I read many of these stories to keep me going. My journey took 7 years with lots of breaks and frustrations. My aim has always been to get into a part-time program on the West Coast (Berkeley, UCLA, USC). Here is the short story:

When I was still in college in 2008 I took the GMAT my junior year. I didn't study much, but I thought hey why not. Well needless to say it was quite humbling. I got a 530 (Q40, V21).

I took a break and decided to actually put real effort behind my studying this time. In 2012, I signed up for the Manhattan GMAT live course in Chicago. It was a fun class, but it was very heavily focused on the quant section. As you can see before, my problem was really in the verbal. I read all of the verbal books that were provided by MGMAT. After 9 weeks of studying I got a 560 (Q43, V25). I was so disappointed that I lost all of my motivation. I really thought maybe this test really tested aptitude and I just didn't have it together.

After 4 years of working I decided to give it one more shot. I really read a lot on the forums on the best way to self study. I didn't want to spend another $1000 or more on a course to find out that my score went up 30 points. So I created my own study plan which consisted of the following:

- E-GMAT Sentence Correction Course (completed the course at least 6 times and took notes. **I am a native speaker and this course was still VERY helpful)
- MGMAT Sentence Correction Guide (read this all the way through 2 times)
- Powerscore Critical Reasoning Bible (read this all the way through 2 times)
- Kaplan GMAT Math Workbook (just completed this one time through with all practice exercises. Just used to review)
- Ordered subscription for The Economist (read about 4 large articles per week)
- Ordered subscription for Scientific American (read about half of the articles per month)
- Read To Kill A Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby (recommended from another user)
- GMAT OG 2017 (finished every problem in the book once, and ones I missed I did twice or three times)
- GMAT OG Verbal Guide 2017 (did all Sentence Correction twice, didn't complete RC or CR sections)

After I completed the above I started really hitting the GMAT PREP mock exams. I ordered the Exam Pack 1 which includes GMAT PREP 3 and 4 tests. I received the following scores on these:

GMAT PREP 1 - 710
GMAT Prep 2 - 700
GMAT Prep 3 - 610
GMAT Prep 4 - 650
(2 repeat questions)

GMAT Prep 3 and 4 really felt a lot more difficult in the verbal sections. The questions got really tough, but turns out it was good practice.

Actual GMAT: The quant felt a lot easier than GMAT Prep 3 and 4. The verbal felt slightly easier, but on par with GMAT Prep 1 and 2. The IR felt a LOT easier on the actual GMAT than the GMAT prep. I wonder if they made it easier...?

Actual GMAT score: 690 (Q49, V35). This was a higher quant score than I ever received on any practice exam, and an average verbal score from my exams. I was so relieved to have this score and now I can finally feel competitive and apply into my desired schools. I plan to apply R1 for fall 2018. I really recommend the curriculum above as I really feel like each piece worked to complete the whole picture. I studied 2 hours every weeknight (worked full time) and 2 hours each morning and 2 hours in the evening on the weekend. It took about 12 weeks to complete the above at that rate. By the way I became a bit obsessed with the exam and was totally distraught when I saw the GMAT Prep 3 pop up with a 610. At that time I took 5 days off to relax which was very helpful. I would recommend this if needed. However, I should say I went to Europe for a week where I still took my GMAT books with me.

Thanks to all that post to this site, it was extremely helpful and I wouldn't know how to get this score without it!
Many congratulations!!!

What a good and detailed review...
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by deepagg84 » Wed Dec 07, 2016 1:00 pm
Thank you for posting your experience. What did you do to practice for RC?

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by jonnyutz » Wed Dec 07, 2016 1:46 pm
For RC I simply started by reading a LOT more. I read the two novels I mentioned in my post and read in depth articles every week. I tried to read several hours and whenever I had a moment. This started long before I even studied.

I did read the Manhattan GMAT book for RC, but it wasn't as helpful as just reading as much as you can. The comprehension starts to come after hours of reading. When it came to actual practice, I used the OG 2017 to get questions under my belt.

I hope that helps and happy to answer any other questions.

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by Matthewdeklerk » Thu Dec 08, 2016 8:15 am
Dude well done! I started off my GMAT journey 4 months ago and was feeling pretty despondent after getting a 560. Looking back I can't believe how much time and effort it took! I ended up with a 680 thanks to Target Test Prep and some good long hours of study.

Anyways, anyone else out there who is struggling with low scores, just remember that practice makes perfect!

Feel free to ask me any questions, I know I gained a lot reading from other peoples reviews over my time :)

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by ckinney1629 » Sun Jan 08, 2017 5:36 am
Thanks for sharing your journey, very insightful and it has given me the motivation to continue the process. What was your schedule like when it came to studying, i.e.: did you study one day Quant and the next Verbal? How often were you reading? You mentioned you would read several hours, was this daily? I too am trying to increase the amount of reading I do, as I have seen an increase in my reading comprehension.

Thanks in advance.

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by jonnyutz » Sun Jan 08, 2017 9:45 am
I'm glad it can be motivating. It's nice to hear my experience can get another person motivated to keep going.

My schedule started nearly exclusively with Verbal since it was my weak point. I would recommend starting with whatever your weakest point is. Specifically, mine was Sentence Correction so I spent several weeks only studying SC. After that, I went to Quant and spent about 2 weeks to get up to speed knowing it was my strong point and then combined the two in the last 3 weeks of studying.

As far as how often I was reading... it was every day. This started long before my true 12 weeks of actual studying. I read everyday for at least 1 hour for 2 months. It was similar to going to the gym... some days you don't feel like it at all, but you just have to push yourself to do it. Even if you comprehend nothing in the beginning, just keep doing it until you do.

Hope that helps!

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by ckinney1629 » Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:21 am
Thanks for the quick response, it definitely helps!

If you don't mind me asking, why did you choose Powerscore CR Bible to study CR from? I have both Powerscore and MGMAT and am trying to figure out which one is better. I have read both, but am not sure which one to focus on.

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by jonnyutz » Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:27 am
I ended up using Powerscore because of what people send on this site mainly. A few years ago when I studied I used MGMAT, and it was alright to be honest, but something with how Powerscore is written really made a difference. I just read it cover to cover twice honestly and it started to stick with me.

I think MGMAT is super methodological if that's what you need. Powerscore wasn't about tricks about solving but really understanding the logic behind the problems. I didn't use any sort of trick of reading the question first or anything like that. I was able to just read the question and answer it honestly based on logic. I think MGMAT misses that concept.

Hope that helps!

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by ckinney1629 » Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:47 am
It's interesting you mentioned the logic part of answering the questions, as I recently read to answer CR questions, it is more about logic, than tricks.

Thanks!

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by jonnyutz » Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:21 pm
Just following up on this from when I posted the 690 GMAT score. I have officially been accepted at UC Berkeley-Haas and plan to attend their EWMBA program starting Fall of 2018! Excited to be part of the class and feels like a long road to get here, but was totally worth it.