Hey all. So it took me a total of 5 months, 2 attempts and 1 temper tantrum to get my dream score, but my journey finally ended yesterday with a 760 (49Q/44V)!
My high school put a lot of emphasis on writing and not much on math. In fact, the only math classes that I took in high school were pre-algebra, geometry, algebra, and "discrete math", which is basically a math class for kids who are not very good at math.
I then went to a liberal arts college and majored in Psychology, so the only exposure to math that I got there was from the two required statistics classes as well as the Econ 101 class that I took as an elective.
My journey started in mid-May of this year, one year after I graduated from college, when I realized that I wanted to go back to school and that taking the GMAT seemed like a good way to get on the right track. After about 10 minutes of looking at sample GMAT questions online, I realized the math was way over my head and I needed to learn it from the ground up if I was going to have any chance. So I gave myself 4 months to study (it eventually took 5) and I looked at which test prep company had the best resources for math. All I can say is THANK GOD FOR
MANHATTAN GMAT.
I heard great things about their strategy guides and let me say that they were perfect for someone in my position. I started with the Foundations of Math strategy guide and took copious notes. I had plenty of time so I did about 1-2 chapters a day, making sure I fully understood all the concepts in each chapter. I then moved on to the other strategy guides, focusing about 90% of my time on math and only 10% on verbal for at least the first 2 months. I lived and breathed those strategy guides for those two months. For me, the biggest challenges were exponents and roots, combinations and permutations, algebra rules, and rate/work problems. I generally did well in geometry, coordinate plane, and basic statistics problems.
I never took an initial diagnostic test because I thought my math score would be so low that it would be discouraging. However, after about a month and a half of studying exclusively from the MGMAT strategy guides, I took my first practice exam. My first four scores were mixed then I started doing well consistently. Below are my practice test scores.
Start: 5/18
6/30: 700 - MGMAT 1 - 44Q (73rd percentile), 41V (93rd percentile)
7/21: 640 - MGMAT 2 - 44Q (73rd), 34V (72nd)
8/13: 710 - MGMAT 3 - 45Q (77th), 41V (93rd)
8/24: 640 - MGMAT 4 - 44Q (73rd), 34V (72nd)
8/30: 740 - GMAC 1 - 47Q (N/A), 45V (N/A)
9/1: 700 - MGMAT 5 - 45Q (77th), 40V (91st)
9/6: 740 - MGMAT 6 - 46Q (79th), 45V (99th)
9/8: 730 - GMAC 2 - 45Q (N/A), 44V (N/A)
My exam was scheduled for Sept 10, and the last 4 practice exams that I had taken were 740, 700, 740 and 730, so I was very confident that I would get above a 700. My quant scores had been very stable throughout the whole process, so I figured all I needed was to do a little bit better than my average and I could get lucky. I had studied for 3.5 months at that point, and I was ready.
I get into the practice center feeling very nervous. I had taken the day off from work that day but my exam wasn't until 3:30 PM, so I was literally pacing around my apartment all day watching the clock. I arrived at the practice center 30 minutes early and they actually let me start early, which I appreciated. The essays were a breeze, I felt pretty confident after taking the quant, and I buckled down to finish out the verbal. I clicked submit, held my breath, and saw this on the screen:
Quantitative: 40 (56th%)
Verbal: 45 (97th%)
Overall: 690 (88th%)
I was shattered. Not only did I completely BOMB the quant, which was the section I really needed to do well on, but I didn't even get a 700. Of the 8 practice tests that I had taken, I had only scored below a 700 on two of them and I had never gotten below 73rd% in quant, let alone 56th%.
While I knew it was a good overall score, I was not happy and I knew I was going to have to take it again. I am generally a cool, calm and collected person, but I was so disappointed with how poorly I did in the quant section that I was about to break something for about 5 hours afterwards. To this day I still don't know what went wrong. For the next week or so I couldn't study. I had already put a lot of effort into it and I was burnt out. But I signed up for another exam date a month later anyway and started studying again.
To be honest, I really didn't do too much studying between my first and second exams. However, during that month all of the information that I had learned actually started to settle, and I noticed my math skills improving almost effortlessly. It was almost as if my mind needed time to consolidate all the information. This is why giving yourself a lot of time to study can be so valuable to your success!
In the week leading up to my second exam, all I did was take one practice test (got a 49 quant but kinda messed up the verbal, resulting in a 710) and some OG practice problems to stay fresh. I went into my second test feeling relaxed, like I was playing with house money. I already had my 690 score in the books, and most schools take your highest score, so I figured I had nothing to lose. I took the test, felt really good while taking it, and the score popped up:
Quantitative: 49 (86%)
Verbal: 44 (97%)
Overall: 760 (99%)
I was BEYOND myself. I couldn't believe how well I did, especially in the quant section. I left the test center so incredibly pleased and satisfied that all my hard work had paid off!!
To anyone else who is in my position where the verbal comes relatively easy to you, but you are struggling mightily in the quant, GET THE
MANHATTAN GMAT GUIDES. It will teach you everything you need to know from the ground up, and these fundamental skills will be absolutely essential for you to score well in the quant section. Knowing all the tricks in the world won't help you if you don't have the root and exponent rules down pat, or if you don't know how to set up an age problem, for example. Take your time, start from the very beginning, don't skip anything, and you can actually do very well! The other piece of advice that I can give you after you have built up very strong fundamentals is to just do as much practice as you possibly can. Try to identify what type of problem it is (is it an overlapping sets problem, or a ratio problem? for example), and then try to solve it. Then make sure you go back and review your mistakes to see where your weaknesses are otherwise you will just tread water. I didn't worry about timing for the first 3/4 of my studies. I just learned how to do the problems, and as I practiced more and more I got much faster. But by the end, I never needed more than 2 minutes to complete any problem anyway, and if I did, it was because I simply didn't know how to do it!
Best of luck to you all. If I can do it, you can too!
Cheers,
Nick