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100 Point Improvements - THEY ARE POSSIBLE

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100 Point Improvements - THEY ARE POSSIBLE [#permalink] New post 05 Dec 2011, 17:52
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Hi Folks,
Just wanted to add in another yes it's possible to really improve your score post.
10/15/2011: 640 via 31Q 44V AWA 6.0
12/5/2011: 740 via 48Q 44V AWA 6.0

The october test was a hugely upsetting score to me because I had been testing (Kaplan and official CATs) in the 690-710 range with stable verbal scores in the 42-44 space. I had seen one 650 due to a low quant score in my prep tests, but brushed it off. Then day of the first GMAT I just knew the quant didn't go well. And, it didn't. I'd never scored that low - even on my first dead-cold Kaplan CAT that I used as a diagnostic.

After a day or two of being depressed, I really had to sit myself down and think about what happened. I work a really demanding job (consulting with 100% travel) and I knew that there was going to be no way to study HARDER this second time around, just SMARTER.

First, a real honest debrief of the testing experience: I was over confident. I was also unlucky.
I'd always been a killer standardized test taker and I assumed that I would do well. Yes, I put together a pretty comprehensive 12 week study program and averaged about 15 hours per week before the first go around. But I spend A LOT of time re-teaching myself some of the quant basics. I was an English major in college and don't do a ton of that in my work life so there was a real need to get back to fraction and exponent basics. This was needed, but a major distraction from the best possible study tool: practice problems. After the initial sting went away I did continue to feel that I had been a bit unlucky on the problem set given to me in my first GMAT - I got lots of questions that played to my weakness. This can totally happen. Nothing you can do except work to minimize those weaknesses.

Next, a short enough timeline and a new study plan: 7 weeks, 100% quant practice problems
That's right, I did not spend even 5 minutes on verbal. No AWA. All quant, baby. I used Kaplan GMAT 800 as well as the OG-Quant books and did hundreds of practice problems. Learned that I was over thinking a lot of my DS questions and getting caught up in common "tricks" in my PS problems. Then did more practice problems. Learned that I wasn't actually as pressed for time as I had believed, and my re-reading the problems and double-checking my assumptions before finalizing each problem was WORTH the time i took.

Next, major audit and use of the error log: Wow, I'm utterly terrible at arithmetic.
What a surprise! I can tackle the trickiest of geometry problems, and I'm solid in my algebra. If you ask me a question on odds/evens or any other number properties and I'm dead. Good to know. Add lots of arithmetic problems to my diet.

Last, de-stress by taking NO MORE CATs.
Perhaps this is controversial, but I was getting really anxious in my first round of studying by the scores on those CATS. I caved and took just the quant session of one CAT the weekend before my second exam, but otherwise freed myself of this pressure by being a woman on a mission: to blow through as many practice problems as possible.

Everyone's path is different. If you have the patience to figure out your strengths (don't waste time here) and weaknesses (drill, baby, drill) you can make serious improvements.
For me, really thinking about what went wrong the first time and then CHANGING MY APPROACH TO STUDYING made all the difference. Now I've improved my quant score by 17 (count 'em, 17) points and I'm a proud member of the 700 club!

ETA: added AWA score for second exam
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Last edited by LadyRoadWarrior on 09 Dec 2011, 13:00, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 100 Point Improvements - THEY ARE POSSIBLE [#permalink] New post 05 Dec 2011, 20:39
congratulations and good luck for apps part
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Re: 100 Point Improvements - THEY ARE POSSIBLE [#permalink] New post 05 Dec 2011, 21:36
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Looks like you had a really strong Verbal - that's a great base.

Did you do any additional Verbal prep after your first attempt or all focus was on Quant?
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Re: 100 Point Improvements - THEY ARE POSSIBLE [#permalink] New post 06 Dec 2011, 01:36
wow....thats hope for ppl stuck in the 600s rut....Congrats!!!
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Re: 100 Point Improvements - THEY ARE POSSIBLE [#permalink] New post 06 Dec 2011, 08:41
I can so relate with you, but the only difference was that I had to work on sentence correction.

Just like you, I scored between 680-720 before the GMAT and scored 620 on the GMAT in October.

I barely studied since my last gmat and scored 730 on the second attempt.

I think that GMAT had a lot of weird questions in the month of october and the questions in december are more like OG12 questions.

Which schools are you planning to apply to?
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Re: 100 Point Improvements - THEY ARE POSSIBLE [#permalink] New post 06 Dec 2011, 09:02
This is a great example of doing what works for you. You didn't let the original GMAT bring you down, you didn't quit, and you made the necessary changes. All great characteristics in an MBA hopeful. Congrats on your stellar score!

As a quick question, did you take any of the GMATprep tests more than once before your original test? I have seen some members using 2nd attempt GMATprep tests as a true indicator of test day success.

You really made a huge improvement. Quite an accomplishment! Now your done with the GMAT FOREVER :-D
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Re: 100 Point Improvements - THEY ARE POSSIBLE [#permalink] New post 06 Dec 2011, 16:13
bb wrote:
Did you do any additional Verbal prep after your first attempt or all focus was on Quant?

Zero, zilch. Was hard to just leave it alone, but I needed to be really effective on the quant.
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Senior Manager
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Status: Decision Week!
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Concentration: General Management, Strategy
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Re: 100 Point Improvements - THEY ARE POSSIBLE [#permalink] New post 06 Dec 2011, 16:20
GMATLA wrote:
This is a great example of doing what works for you. You didn't let the original GMAT bring you down, you didn't quit, and you made the necessary changes. All great characteristics in an MBA hopeful. Congrats on your stellar score!

As a quick question, did you take any of the GMATprep tests more than once before your original test? I have seen some members using 2nd attempt GMATprep tests as a true indicator of test day success.

You really made a huge improvement. Quite an accomplishment! Now your done with the GMAT FOREVER :-D


Thanks so much. I feel great about my results. I did take the GMATprep tests I think twice each, and had very few repeat questions. This was extremely helpful for me and I think the results were fairly accurate. I think that I got 640, 690, 710, 710 on my prep tests. I did just the quant section the weekend before my second exam and got a 48. I then got a 48 on the actual exam. Fairly accurate in my opinion on the quant.

However, I didn't think that the verbal was as accurate. I never got higher than a 41 on the GMATprep tests, but got a 44 on both my actual exams.
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Re: 100 Point Improvements - THEY ARE POSSIBLE [#permalink] New post 08 Dec 2011, 18:59
Congrats. I am on the same boat. But rowing the Quant oar faster now :)
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Re: 100 Point Improvements - THEY ARE POSSIBLE [#permalink] New post 08 Dec 2011, 19:43
46 verbal- do you have any tips especially for verbal?
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Re: 100 Point Improvements - THEY ARE POSSIBLE [#permalink] New post 08 Dec 2011, 20:00
Great result, really good accomplishment!
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Re: 100 Point Improvements - THEY ARE POSSIBLE [#permalink] New post 09 Dec 2011, 05:51
Wow! Fantastic score!! Congrats!

I had the exact numbers in my First attempt 640. 44. 31.The only difference Q44 and V 31!!!!!!

Any tips on verbal!???I got my exam in Early Jan!!!
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Re: 100 Point Improvements - THEY ARE POSSIBLE [#permalink] New post 09 Dec 2011, 06:28
Hi all,
Thanks so much for your kind words and congratulations. Unfortunately I don't have any great tips for verbal - I am just very lucky that the verbal component of the test comes very naturally to me. I was a literature & creative writing major in college and I have a job in which I do a large amount of communications work.

However, there is one component to my quant studying that I think is valuable when applied to any portion of the test: improving your stamina. As I was preparing for my second exam, I spent many days doing sets of 20-40 quant problems in a row without checking answers or reviewing. After each set I would check to see how many I had done correctly, but would not review the correct answers/methods until I had completed 3-4 sets. This made test day feel mild in comparison. This to me seems especially relevant for those who struggle with verbal, because on test day you'll be taking the verbal section when tired because it comes last. If you work on large problem sets, you will be accustomed to answering verbal questions when tired :)

I think that building up my stamina helped me to feel calm about my performance on the exam - I wouldn't be the overwhelming, anxiety-ridden disaster that the first exam felt like.

Best wishes to all! I'm still in disbelief that I could improve my score so drastically - but if I can do it, so can others!
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Re: 100 Point Improvements - THEY ARE POSSIBLE [#permalink] New post 09 Dec 2011, 07:18
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I definitely agree! The greatest factor other than truly studying verbal books and strategies is building stamina. Once you hit the verbal section your mind might be shot, you might be worried about the quant, or you might be distracted by the idiot doing jumping jacks in the bathroom. Whatever it is, stamina is key;

A few key ways to build stamina:
1. ALWAYS take full length practice tests. Always take the full 30 minutes on both essays. If you never practice the essays, the last hour of the actual test will be torture. Plus, your score on that test will not be representative of your actual score. You just cheated, skipped the AWA. Are you going to do that on test day? I sure hope not, becuase there is no situation where that makes sense.
2. Only take 6 minute breaks on practice tests! This is like putting a weight on your bat in the batters box (baseball reference). Once the weight comes, the bat feels lighter! If you only take 6 miniute breaks, then the test day will feel better or normal to what you're used to. Take 10-15 minute breaks can be a stamina killer!
3. When studying, try as best you can to study in 1-2 hour chunks with 8 minute breaks. Maybe with a quick snack in between, some water, etc. Studying in this fashion will help mold your work into a test day environment. On Sat and Sun I would study 5-6 hours with 1.5 hour chunks and 8 minute breaks. Stamina went through the roof!
4. Wear earplugs. This is a key compenant many forget: On test day you have a room full of other people! You're not going to be in your mom's quite basement with a 40 inch computer monitor. All these people will be going in and out of the room, all on different test schedules than you. Buy some earplugs and wear them during your practice tests and study sessions. Get used to what it feels like, sounds like, to have them in. DON'T take them out during the real test day breaks. It is in your best interest to not hear anything around you, and only care about what you need to do. Think tunnel vision, with a 700+ at the end of that tunnel
5. During breaks get the blood moving. Jump around, move your legs, arms, hands, stretch out your muscles. I know this might feel weird, but go the bathroom on ALL breaks and before your test, do all of these exercises and get the blood moving. It will rejuvinate you physically and mentally. Get your face up on the mirorr and say "YOU'RE GOING TO KILL THIS TEST". Then kick the door open and get back to your test.
6. FORGET ABOUT THE PREVIOUS SECTION. Seriously, forget about it. Everybody tries to guess how they did, or feel like they did good or bad on the last section (especially quant). First, IT DOESN'T MATTER ANYMORE. Your score is in the books and on a CAT test there is no way to really know how you did. Second, the verbal section is the biggest opportunity on the test to drive your score! FREAKING FORGET ABOUT IT! I've tried "guessing" how I did on a section and it doesn't matter, it's a stamina killer, and you're usually wrong. On test day I felt good on the Quant, and thought I blew the verbal. Go figure that it was the exact opposite. Buuut, my high verbal drove my overall score over 700.
7. Don't forget about the last 5-10 verbal. I know you're ready to see your score right???? It can be hard to concentrate, but you have to. Every problem is an opportunity to score big points. If you can string 5 correct answers at the end instead of missing all five, I wouldn't doubt that it could be a 50-100 point difference on test day. It is easy to click submit though when you just want to see your score. Don't miss this opportunity to put the GMAT behind you forever. Really practice this on your practice tests.

After practicing many of these techniques, test day stamina was not an issue. In fact, I went to work that afternoon after my test and felt great (A good score didn't hurt). I'm pretty sure I could have easily completed another section and still given almost 100%. With these strategies in mind, ATTACK the verbal b/c this section can really make or break your score.
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Re: 100 Point Improvements - THEY ARE POSSIBLE [#permalink] New post 11 Dec 2011, 20:54
inspiring story for a person like me.
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Re: 100 Point Improvements - THEY ARE POSSIBLE [#permalink] New post 12 Dec 2011, 22:26
you make some interesting points, thanks!
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Re: 100 Point Improvements - THEY ARE POSSIBLE [#permalink] New post 23 May 2012, 15:39
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Just a quick follow up to this old post: I was initially concerned that adcomms would see my 640 and it would be a red flag. 4 admits and 3 fellowships later, I'm CERTAIN that they only care about your best score.
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Re: 100 Point Improvements - THEY ARE POSSIBLE [#permalink] New post 01 Jul 2012, 22:05
Thanks for the great debrief and new update!! It's one less thing for the rest of us to worry about...
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Re: 100 Point Improvements - THEY ARE POSSIBLE [#permalink] New post 02 Jul 2012, 09:20
Congrats for the fantastic score and thanks for the great de-brief!
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Re: 100 Point Improvements - THEY ARE POSSIBLE [#permalink] New post 02 Jul 2012, 23:04
Congratulations on your remarkable improvement and fantastic score!!

What sources did you use for quant practice for your second take and can you give me some tips on how to stay calm in the quant section? I always feel so rushed :(
Re: 100 Point Improvements - THEY ARE POSSIBLE   [#permalink] 02 Jul 2012, 23:04
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