580 to 690 in 3 WEEKS! Quant 36 to 48

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580 to 690 in 3 WEEKS! Quant 36 to 48

by kikimondra » Tue Dec 03, 2019 1:52 pm
I have never been one to write in forums, but when I needed advice the most, I turned to several GMAT forums and read stories of other people who have killed it, so I want to give back. Hopefully, somebody reads this and realizes that they can improve their score significantly too!

In July this year, I started prepping with examPAL and diligently studied my material for the following three months. This is not to drag the program, as it did teach me the basics in an easily understandable way and might have worked perfectly for someone else. You go through everything on a topic-per-topic basis. It is great for the basics, but looking back I believe I studied hard for stuff I didn't need to focus that much attention on (e.g. I spent hours and hours getting crazy over geometry and severely neglecting integers and such topics when it should have been the other way round. I didn't know about the big topics on the GMAT. I just studied for everything with the same amount of input. October came around and the date of my GMATapproached rapidly. I might have been over-confident, going into my first GMAT. During my mock exams, which I kept as close to reality as possible (no breaks, distraction or other) I scored in the high 600 and even hit a 700 once. I was aiming for mid 600.

That being said, when I sat my first GMAT, I thought this was the easiest the test had ever been. I was prepared for this. I had slept 8h every day for three months. I had eaten well. I had stopped studying the day before to avoid cramming. I had meditated. You name a technique to calm down and ensure a good test performance, well I did it. I was there to kill it! The whole time I was telling myself "oh wow, how come the exam is this easy this time?" BIG MISTAKE. Instead of concentrating on what was in front of me and pushed by my big ego, I thought I was doing great and shining until I clicked "send essay" and stared at the 580 in front of me. I sat there and stared at my screen until the test instructor came around and asked me to leave the chair if I am done with my exam. I couldn't believe it. They surely must have made an error, this is impossible.
I went outside and still couldn't believe that after investing MY ENTIRE LIFE to the GMAT for three months, studying 7h per day and pushing aside other hobbies, meetings etc. I was only able to score 580. To me, it wasn't representative of the amount of work I put into this prep. Q36, V34, IR 7.

Other than that, it wasn't even close to the minimum I needed to apply to my Master's.
After spending two days being semi-depressed and debating of just letting it go and accepting a 580, I started reading on different forums, specifically looking for people who had managed to see a jump in their score in a short amount of time.
I had three weeks until the last possible GMAT date. The only positive point was my 6 on AWA but otherwise, my daily mood was far from shining.

I contacted my former study platform and looked for advice to understand if I would be even capable of seeing an increase in as little as three weeks. Answers weren't really conclusive, but they're not to blame, I guess they can't tell you something precise in the danger that you take their word for granted.
After writing in another forum, Rich answered to one of my posts, offered help as well as to analyze my ESR and I decided to try out EmpowerGMATs free trial.
The thing that hooked me immediately, was their approach. Now, I do not have a math background. In fact, I studied culinary arts, sciences and restaurant management - yes, management, so there was a bit of biz in there, but needless to say, I wasn't forced to calculate around with integers, radicals or work problems for a good 5 years. Don't even get me talking about geometry and such. You get the picture. And if any calculation was required of me during those past 5 years, then surely not on paper but with a calculator.

I used Empower's score booster, their shortened program which immediately caught my eye as it is advertised as directed towards people who wrote the GMAT once already. I saw advertisements of people bumping their score to the big 7 and all I could think of was "yeah sure.. But could I?"
The whole program and interface are laid out clearly, with a step-by-step guide to follow so it leaves no room for guesswork. There is even a pdf document which lets you know in advance how much time you need to set aside to complete a certain topic. THIS IS BEYOND HELPFUL. How many days have I planned out study sessions just to find myself adjusting them because something took longer than I expected.

The whole course is structured in mini-videos and in-between exercises BUT THE BEST PART is that Empower, and Empower only makes use of the OG guides. I purchased them back in June, before even knowing which online study platform to use because I thought that I would surely need those books. During my three months with examPAL I didn't touch the books at all, but in Empower's structure, you have built-in Quizzes of different difficulties for which you always use the OG guides. It means you're practising with the real deal only. It's not only great for your performance but also very calming on your nerves to know that you've been practising with real stuff, rather than knock-off questions that could be either too hard, or too easy.

I studied hard, and I mean HARD, for the following three weeks, focusing mainly on math, and diligently went through all of the prep material. I still did my English courses as well, as there were plenty of little tricks and tips which helped me to bump my score that was good already.

Now, one important thing though: When I asked for advice in forums if an increase in three weeks would be possible, everybody said no. I was nearly discouraged. The only reason why I managed to bump my quant from 36 to 48 was because of Rich's way of teaching math. What I loved is that he cuts back on unnecessary stuff, teaches you the vital things only. I focused most on formulas I didn't know and with each module and video I discovered new shortcuts and clear-cut ways of solving math without making it complicated. MOST OF ALL Rich teaches you how to be thorough. I no longer guessed around in DS or answered based on what I thought was true based on some notes and calculations, but started following a strict way of figuring out what is right and wrong in DS and HAVING PROOF FOR IT written on my paper, so whenever I clicked on an answer I was dead-sure it was the right one. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE HOW IMPORTANT THIS IS. I would even claim that my main increase in Quant was because of all tricks, tips, shortcuts and new ways of just, simply, taking clear notes. I didn't discover any theoretical knowledge I didn't know already, but it was the way I got to the knowledge that was all new!

I cannot thank the Empower team enough. Lyndsay was always quick to help and their platform is well built, self-explanatory and full of little surprise bits like motivational podcasts and extra study material as well as built-in reviews and Quizzes to strengthen all you've learnt so far.

I finally retired from my GMAT quest. It might have taken longer than expected, it brought more tears than I thought, but finally, I can proudly say that my score reflects my work and all that I've put into it. Q48, V37, 690.


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by [email protected] » Thu Dec 05, 2019 1:22 pm
Hi kikimondra,

That's OUTSTANDING news! A 690/Q48 is a FANTASTIC Score - and that fact that you improved so much in just 3 weeks shows how strong of a critical thinker you really are (and learning to "see" the GMAT in a certain way was one of the missing components in your performance). With this Score, you now have lots of potential options to consider (as far as your applications are concerned) - which is a great!

Are you still focusing solely on the Master's Program in Finland that you were interested in? With this 690, you will certainly have additional options!

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