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700 on first GMATPrep: please help decide study plan

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Hello everyone,

It was ten days ago that I decided to finally wipe the dust off my MBA dream and began the arduous GMAT journey. After spending a few days reading about the GMAT and familiarizing myself with the various kinds of questions, I attempted a diagnostic GMATPrep mock test yesterday, with the following result:

Score: 700 (Q49, V37, IR8)
Sections attempted: All - the order was AWA > IR > Quant > Verbal
Test environment: I took the test at home but made sure to mimic time restrictions - never pausing the test, and only leaving my seat twice before starting the Quant and Verbal section, each time for less than 8 minutes. I was also able to simulate some test day anxiety by thinking too much ("What would I do if I only manage 400?") and, as a result, not getting a full night's sleep.
Preparation taken: A few hours daily for 10 days - spent mostly gathering information about the exam from the GMAT official website and the GMAT Club forum, followed by reading through Magoosh's free guide to the GMAT.
Background: I completed my engineering in 2009, and have been working a regular day job since then. The last time I wrote an exam was 5 years ago. I am comfortable with math and do a fair bit of reading, but I found myself to be rusty and out of practice, and came close to losing my cool a couple of times during today's test.

With all the above taken into account, I need help with a couple of questions in my mind:

1. How high can I realistically aim to score on the actual GMAT? Regardless of the requirements of schools I might shortlist, I am prone to laziness and hence must set myself a stiff target so as to remain motivated.

2. I am considering writing the GMAT around 100 days from today. I can put in 2-3 hours of study on weekdays, with a 6-hour shift on the weekend. I would like to be as thorough with my preparations as possible, but want to limit my monetary investment to books and self-study online courses. With that in mind, how should I go about preparations? From the limited information I could gather over the last few days, two possible options are as under:

-OG, MGMAT Guides and a Magoosh premium subscription
-OG, Math Revolution for Quant and E-GMAT for Verbal

Considering my current level, would you suggest either of the above, or should I adopt a different approach?

I am quite confused how to proceed and I would be deeply grateful for any help in this matter.



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by Rich.C@EMPOWERgmat.com » Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:51 am
Hi interrobong,

To start, a 700 is an outstanding initial CAT Score. Assuming that you did not see any of the questions on this CAT before you took it, then you're clearly a really strong logical thinker and Test Taker. With a bit of 'fine tuning', you could potentially score well into the mid-700s (or higher) - and you won't necessarily need 100 days of study time to get to that level.

GMAC recently announced some changes that will be taking place to the format of the Official GMAT (beginning today - April 16, 2018). These changes primarily impact the overall length of the Exam (meaning the number of questions in the Quant and Verbal sections as well as the amount of time that you'll have to complete each of those two sections). In theory, a shorter Exam could make it easier for a well-prepared Test Taker to score higher. Unfortunately, Official practice CATs in the new 'format' don't exist yet - but once they become available, you should plan to take one (so that we can get a better sense of how you perform under these new conditions).

Since you're not facing any imminent deadlines, I suggest that you put in some time over the next week to research the types of Schools/Programs that might interest you. Once you have a better idea of the specific Programs that you want to apply to, you can better 'map out' a schedule and any additional 'needs' (besides a competitive GMAT Score) that you would need to apply.

After taking each CAT, it's important to do a full review of your performance (with the goal of defining WHY you got questions wrong). While a full Mistake Tracker or CAT Analyzer would provide more detail, there are some basic questions that you should look to answer after you take each CAT (and the more specific you can be with your answers, the better).

After reviewing each section of this CAT, how many questions did you get wrong....
1) Because of a silly/little mistake?
2) Because there was some math/verbal that you just could not remember how to do?
3) Because the question was too hard?
4) Because you were low on time and had to guess?
5) In the Verbal section, how many questions did you "narrow down to 2 choices" but still get wrong?

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Contact Rich at Rich.C@empowergmat.com


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by ceilidh.erickson » Thu Apr 19, 2018 6:51 am
If you're starting with a 700 with minimal prep, you can probably self-study and easily get a mid-700s or higher score. You probably don't need to invest in a full study package. If you already have the Manhattan Prep guides, you'll have access to the 6+ practice exams and online resources. That plus the OG is all you'll need. Here's the general study plan to follow: https://www.beatthegmat.com/materials-a ... tml#787892

One strong piece of advice for you: focus more on verbal than on quant. You're already 2 pts away from a perfect 51 on quant, so there's not a lot of room for improvement there. Spend a bit of time refreshing content and learning time-saving strategies, but if you want score improvement, most of that will have to come from the verbal. Make sure you're not just relying on intuition, but carefully applying strategy there.

Good luck!
Ceilidh Erickson
EdM in Mind, Brain, and Education
Harvard Graduate School of Education