From 600 to 680 in a month.

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From 600 to 680 in a month.

by sponcedeleon » Fri Feb 09, 2018 9:06 am
I started my GMAT journey on August-September 2017. I bought the Manhattan Books and the OG and started to follow the guides and do the CATs. I did found some improvement over time. My CAT score were as follows:

MGMAT CAT 1 (August 2017): 600 Q36 V35
MGMAT CAT 2 (September 2017): 550 Q36 V30 (I ran out of time on this verbal)
MGMAT CAT 3 (October 2017): 580 Q32 V37 (I changed section order and ran out of time on Quant)
MGMAT CAT 4 (October 2017): 640 Q39 V38 (I mainly focused on my timing before this CAT and saw huge improvement)
MGMAT CAT 5 (November 2017): 620 Q40 V35

Offical CAT 1 (November 2017): 690 Q47 V38
Official CAT 2 (November 2017): 710 Q46 V42

Official GMAT Exam 1 (November 2017): 600 Q38 V34 IR 4

I was really shocked to see my score. I remember that I ran out of time in Verbal which left me really nervous. When I started the Quant section I was really shaken and couldn't answer the first question, the second question was really easy, a percent change or something like that. On normal conditions I could have answered that question in less than a minute but I think it took me over 2 minutes and I wasn't even sure I got it right. I ended up rushing the whole section and finishing it with some minutes to spare and a really low score.

I knew something went wrong, I realized that I knew most of the content but I was lacking a proper strategy so after taking some weeks off I signed up to the EmpowerGMAT course after doing some research on the online courses available that could be completed in one month and were good for re takers. The EmpowerGMAT course made me realize that if I wanted to improve in one month I had to focus on the most frequently tested areas.


My situation in quant was a bit atypical. I was REALLY good at some complex subjects such as probability, combinations, multi shaped geometry and overlapping sets. But I was failing at subjects such as remainders and percentages. I learned that some subjects are worth little points and some other are worth a lot. I was good at the ones that were worth less so I had to focus on getting those easier problems correct first. I was told hard questions are worth little to no points and I could experience it in my last CAT exams. Getting more questions correct does not guarantee a higher score, it really depends on which questions you get correct and which you get wrong. Focus on the important subjects: integer properties, algebra, averages, percentages. You'll see many of those questions, I took the exam twice and I can swear that the question type distribution was nearly identical. You'll see only one or two probability questions and one or none questions with three overlapping sets so it makes no sense focusing on that.

The EmpowerGMAT approach is based on teaching you to solve problems the non-math way, it's great for people that don't come from a math background. I focused my preparation on learning how to correctly test the answers and test some numbers to get to the correct answer, you can't go wrong doing that. If you are not a math genius it's vital you know how to test the answers and use test numbers. I didn't get an awesome Quant score on my final GMAT but I do believe this to be a great approach.


I'm not a native speaker but since the beginning I was better at the verbal section than the quant one. It came more naturally and I found it much easier. One of my lowest verbal scores was actually in my first official GMAT (V34), I remember finding that exam extremely difficult, much more than what I had seen at the CATs. I was extremely good at RC and I rarely got any question wrong. Learn to read at a pace you can understand what you are reading and connect with the passage. Tell yourself that you are actually reading something interesting, it sounds stupid but it really helped me improve. Also, you should be eliminating answers choices rather than choosing a correct one. It's much easier, particularly on the really difficult questions. You will almost always come down to two possible answers, the other three are way too wrong, this is also true for CR. The test makers know this, it's done on purpose for you to take a decision. The EmpowerGMAT course has some really interesting techniques in how to deal with that final choice.

Most of my improvement needed to be done on SC. I was getting decent scores but I barely knew any grammar rule, even though I'm not a native speaker I chose most answers by what sounded correct rather than what I knew was correct. The EmpowerGMAT course helped me identify the main error types and I learned to spot them. At times this helped me eliminate up to 4 answer choices just because they had some error type, independently of what the rest of the text said, I didn't cared, I hadn't even read the whole text. Learn your error types, learn to eliminate the filler texts and learn a very few rules and you'll improve your SC.

Official CAT 3 (December 2017): 710 Q47 V40
Official CAT 4 (January 2018): 680 (can't remember the sub-scores I'll edit the post when I find them)

Official GMAT Exam 2 (January 2018): 680 Q43 V40 IR 7

Overall, I'm happy with my GMAT Score. I know I could have done a bit better in Quant but the official exam is never like the CATs. The workspace is not the same, the environment is not the same, the marker pen dries up so you always end up losing time trying to make it work, etc. Furthermore, the GMAT is not provided in my country so that meant I needed to take a 3 hour flight to another country to take the exam which adds to the whole stress levels.

Good luck to you all


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by [email protected] » Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:40 am
Hi sponcedeleon,

That's FANTASTIC news! A 680 is a fantastic score - and it's right around the 85th percentile, so you can comfortably apply to any Schools that interest you. You were also able to improve a great deal in a relatively short period of time (raising a 600 to a 680 is a significant achievement). Having to travel so much just to take the Exam would likely impact most Test Takers, so that makes the achievement all the more meaningful.

1) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
2) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

Congrats again on all of your success so far!

Another GMAT Assassin has been made!
Contact Rich at [email protected]