GMAT Recap (EmpowerGMAT & Magoosh)

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GMAT Recap (EmpowerGMAT & Magoosh)

by jem41989 » Wed Feb 21, 2018 7:03 am
This is about 5 months late but I felt I should post a quick recap because so many of the stories on here really inspired me to keep pushing.

Start of this story is that I was considering an MBA and thought I will take a crack at a GMAT practice test to see where I was. I am not sure if it was a function of being pretty late after work or a bad environment but I bombed the Economist free practice test and got a 490. Safe to say I had an existential crisis and decided I was an idiot. I posted on here and received some encouraging feedback from a number of folks including Rich at Empower. They did caution me that a huge improvement was not necessarily likely.

I took Rich's advice and studied for three weeks out of the OG before deciding on a study service. I purchased the Manhattan prep test pack and turned around three weeks later and scored a 660 mostly driven by a huge jump on the verbal. Once again I was cautioned this is not normal and to be wary of the result. At this point I had decided to give it my best shot and elected to go with Empower for my what would turn out to be my initial course of study. Here I will plug Empower. Empower does a fantastic job of building the basis skills and concepts you need to know for both parts of the test. I think its worth mentioning if SC is a huge stumbling block for you the information there will make you serviceable in a hurry. I went from getting almost all SC questions wrong to getting about 75% correct which is where I stayed and this changed my score in a huge way. The math section is very approachable and for someone who never properly learned Algebra got me to a serviceable place as well.

I can't remember exactly when I made the ill fated decision to re-approach at a more basic level my test prep. I had taken an official practice exam and was getting towards the end of the Empower program (I scored a 710, once again propped up by verbal). I was pretty unhappy with the quant side of things. I have a lot of guilt for not trying harder in K-12 and in college at math. I am certainly no engineer but I know I had a lot more potential there I never tapped. So I told myself I was going to make up for that by re-learning all the GMAT math. While things worked out this was a terrible idea. I think I had been studying for 2.5 months at this point and was already getting burnt out. My Empower subscription ran out and while a great deal I wasn't going to pony up again. Magoosh was running a sale and I hopped on their service. Couple things about Magoosh. It is a very good value, but is not very structured. If you need structure I would recommend something else. I.e. if you are working a lot, or busy otherwise and want to just be able to sit down for an hour and go, probably choose another service like Empower. Mike from Magoosh is great, and the problems he explains are very helpful. The other person they have solving problems works much more quickly and you really need to understand the concept already because you'll be stuck looking back at the videos to figure it out. That was my big bone to pick with them, if it wasn't Mike solving the math problems it was a big step down from Empower. Still I have recommended them to others for the value they provide.

As for the decision to "restart" my studies. It went really bad. I got burnt out and almost abandoned the test. Over the course of four months my scores regressed on the Manhattan practice exams into the mid-600s. I got de-motivated and beaten down. I don't have an awesome take away but it was a bad move on my part and I almost walked away entirely.

Thankfully my girlfriend, a PhD dissertation candidate, was having none of this. The GMAT is cake compared to a PhD (or really any life science field) and she told me to stop being a baby and buckle back down and schedule the test. I worked hard for four weeks but still was scoring poorly. A week before my exam (I took it on a Saturday) I took my second official practice test and low and behold scored a 740 (I think I got a 46 on verbal). This was a welcome shock, which also made me terribly paranoid but that's a flaw in my personality. Not a whole lot else to tell, I got to the test, was sure I was absolutely tanking the quant which is my weakness but turned around with a 730, Q48, V41, 5 on the writing (did not practice that at all, which I do regret a bit), and 7 on IR. I was pretty bummed about the Verbal score but 48 was 1 point better than my best go at the quant, which is a little sad haha, but showed a huge improvement on a personal level.

I am pretty sure I have a little bit more in the tank, but I already had a 6+ month journey through this. I made some poor decisions along the way that extended the pain well beyond what was necessary and I can't recommend enough to not do that unless your life is really set up to allow it and you have a truly special level of motivation (I've passed the CFA and this was mentally harder to keep after for that length of time). A few final things:
Error logs - do it. I read a 100 times to do it and I didn't. Would have fixed math mistakes so much faster
Dumb mistakes - really, really try not to do it. I have been making lots of dumb mistakes since I was in grade school and limiting them even a little really helped prop up my score. WRITE YOUR WORK DOWN INCLUDING THE QUESTION, please don't loose fifty points because you keep reversing what the question is asking for.

Lastly, Don't freak out - It ruins your life and makes you miserable to be around. Its Read a few of these, probably ones better written and more insightful than this one. Some people have amazing perseverance and I truly believe almost all motivated people have what it takes to get a good score on this test. Some of the study services (like Empower) offer really structured ways to get really nice bumps if you put in a base line amount of work.

Thanks to all who have posted on here and to numerous people that gave me pointers along the way! I truly appreciate the encouragement. [/list]


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by [email protected] » Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:11 am
Hi Jay,

That's OUTSTANDING news! This 730/Q48 is an outstanding performance (it's well above the 90th percentile overall), so you can comfortably apply to any Business Schools that interest you. Your original post was almost a year ago - and based on what you've described in this message, it sounds as if you took the GMAT several months back. I don't think you ever explicitly stated what Schools you were considering - but have you applied yet (and which Schools did you choose?)?

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