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540 to 720, a debrief

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540 to 720, a debrief [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2013, 10:11
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Well, it's over. 3 months of studying ended yesterday. I walked out of the testing center with a 720 and some mixed feelings. Here's how it happened.

This starts 3 months ago with my first Manhattan GMAT practice test. Wide-eyed, I clicked through this thing and got absolutely destroyed. I didn't even need to get the 540 score at the end, I knew I had been whipped. After a day or two of the "I bombed this test, is business school really for me" questions, I doubled down and got into studying. I put together a pretty rigorous plan, utilizing the following:

Manhattan GMAT:
If you are just starting your studying, go to a bookstore and buy a Manhattan GMAT book today, if for no other reason than the book comes with free access to 6 CAT tests online as well as a few other resources. I obtained and read through all of the MGMAT books in the series, and all of their CAT tests twice (they will recycle them for you once they are all taken, but you WILL recognize the questions, so be warned - don't waste them the first time around). MGMAT was the foundation for my studying, and I found their books, tests, and online materials (like flashcards) to be top-notch across the board. If you are just going to buy one or two books I would recommend the Number Properties book if you are working on quant because the principles there can be applied to so much stuff and they come up often on the test, and the Critical Reasoning book for verbal. A lot of people recommend the Sentence Correction book, so that is solid too, but for me I got more out of the CR.

Bellcurves.com
I signed up for this because I was in a position where I really needed online content, and this was cheap. Well, you get what you pay for. If you are looking to actually learn, don't use bellcurves. Their explanations are very weak and hard to understand at times, and often their methodology just seems like it's flat out wrong. If you just want access to practice content, though, this is a pretty good resource. They have a ton of timed quizzes and homework, and there are 6 CAT tests (they skewed a little high on the scoring but were generally pretty decent). The quality isn't sterling, but it's not terrible, and it's only like $30 a month for unlimited access, so I thought it was worth it for that price.

Veritas - Free Question Bank: http://www.veritasprep.com/gmat-question-bank/
I found this through some article I read. Basically it's exactly what it sounds like. There are a couple of nice things about this question bank. First it allows you to select the type of problems you want, i.e. CR, DS, SC..... This was really useful to me when I first started my studying because I was having a lot of trouble with DS problems so I started taking 10-15 question quizzes out of the question bank once or twice a day until I got more comfortable. The other nice thing is that the question bank produces metrics for you based on your performance. I'm not sure how useful they are, really, but it at least had the appearance of being insightful, especially the time-per-question metric. Small disclaimer: this question bank is basically a test platform for Veritas for questions for their own CAT tests, so occasionally you will find a question that is poorly worded, or has an error in it. They typically weed these out pretty quickly, and it's only a minor, and rare, nuissance.

GMATClub
This site it awesome. The daily questions emailed to you, the member support, reading other people's experiences - all has been great. I used the thread on Best CAT tests http://gmatclub.com/forum/all-gmat-cat-practice-tests-links-prices-reviews-77460.html coming down the home stretch, and that bought me into 4-5 free CAT tests which got me over the hump. I also got into BeatTheGMAT.com which has a lot of similar content and services. And P&Q is good too just for MBA interest-type stuffhttp://www.poetsandquants.com

In my last week leading up to the test date, I took a CAT test everyday for 5 days, and these were my scores, in the order that I took the tests

Kaplan: 740
Princeton Review: 730
Veritas: 700
GMAT Official test1: 750
GMAT Official test2: 760
Actual GMAT: 720

After going 750, 760 on the official GMAT practice tests (which were taken 1 and 2 days before the actual test, respectively) I was feeling pretty damn good about myself, to the point where I was actually disappointed with the 720 that I actually got on test day. I feel like it's kind of snobby or rude to act like a 720 isn't high enough, but I honestly do think I could have done better (maybe). I'm really, really grateful for the 720, though.

To walk you through the day, the AWA started off great. I thought I had some really good analysis, and after sketching out my response the whole thing just seemed to come together really well for me. Note: I didn't study AWA at all until the day before test day when I read this: http://gmatclub.com/forum/how-to-get-6-0-awa-my-guide-64327.html. That was enough for me, and I recommend everyone at least reading through this before test day, just to get an idea of what a well structured response looks like.

The Integrated Reasoning went pretty well too. I don't know my score yet, of course, but I felt like I breezed through it pretty much. I DID think that the IR started to maybe wear down my focus just a bit, because by the time I finished I felt like I needed a break. I think part of this is that in my practice tests I didn't really take the AWA and IR that seriously, so on test day when I actually knuckled down and had to devote legitimate brain power to those it wore me out more than usual. I just found it difficult in my practices to stay focused on the AWA and IR because I was so eager to get into the real sections. Word to the wise: take those seriously in your studies, as you will see how it caused me to hiccup rolling into the quant.

Quant was almost a wrap for me on the very first question. I can't remember anything about the its content, but it was VERY solvable, like probably a 500-600 level question, but I just could NOT get an answer out of this thing, and the fact that it seemd so simple caused me to keep going back. When I looked up and saw my clock at 70 minutes and realized that I had spent almost 5 minutes on the question I almost died. All my prep work for 3 months on pacing, not getting hung up on questions, educating guessing, all right out the window. I had a moment of panic, threw up a guess and moved. It took me a few questions to shake that one off, and for the next 4-5 questions I felt like I was rushing pretty badly just to try to get myself back on pace. I bet once I see my score report that I pretty much tanked my whole quant section in the first 10 questions; I'm thinking like 5-6 misses. I hit my stride in the early teens (since the difficulty level was probably in the cellar by then) and pretty much cruised through the rest of the section, getting to the last question with 3 minutes left on my clock. I took my break feeling decent, but when I started to consider some of the finer points of my quant run I started to get worried. First, I felt like I had ended the section on a string of easy questions, so that made me think that I was probably skimming the bottom of the barrel. Then I realized I hadn't seen ANY probability questions, ZERO, ZIP, and that's after putting in massive amounts of time learning those strategies. I also couldn't remember seeing any combinatorics or mixture problems, and I know these are all common hard problem types, so that made me really nervous as to my eventual score.

I put my quant apprehensions behind me and settled in post-break for the Verbal and the home stretch, and honestly I don't remember much of that section other than that it seemed pretty easy and I really only was left to pause at 3-5 questions. I really felt like I demolished it. Then I got my score: Quant 47 (73%) Verbal 42 (96%) total 720 (94%). Didn't exactly demolish anything, but I didn't get wrecked either.

I was a little bit deflated because, like I said, I allowed myself to get my heart set on a 750, but in the end I guess I'm happy with where I ended up considering where I started. I HOPE 30 points on a GMAT isn't going to be a difference maker for me, but I also know how competitive it is, and it seems like there are a never-ending string of 700+ applicants, so I guess only time will tell. I might retake, but only if I feel like I have a really strong app everywhere else adding GMAT points is literally the only thing left I could do.

Hope this is of some value to someone out there becausue lord knows I owe a lot to this forum. Best of luck to all on their own tests and apps!

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http://gmatclub.com/forum/540-to-720-a-debrief-154257.html

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Last edited by dustwun on 12 Jun 2013, 18:33, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 540 to 720, a debrief [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2013, 11:07
You have got a great score. Thank you for the debrief.

Last edited by onion253 on 13 Jun 2013, 07:39, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 540 to 720, a debrief [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2013, 11:22
Though I am not an expert on GMAT, I will suggest not to retake the Test with a 720 score at hand . You never know what you might end up with . Anything 700+ should be good enough score for not taking the test again.

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Re: 540 to 720, a debrief [#permalink] New post 13 Jun 2013, 01:11
Congrats on the great score! How would you rate the princeton review CAT's?

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Re: 540 to 720, a debrief [#permalink] New post 13 Jun 2013, 06:55
fozzzy wrote:
Congrats on the great score! How would you rate the princeton review CAT's?


I only took Princeton's free CAT, so I can't speak on the entirety of their content, but I found the test that I took to be on par with the other large prep outfits (MGMAT, Kaplan...). Looking back at my CAT scores vs actual, the princeton CAT actually turned out to be the most accurate predictor (730 v 720), so there might be something to that as well

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http://gmatclub.com/forum/540-to-720-a-debrief-154257.html

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Re: 540 to 720, a debrief   [#permalink] 13 Jun 2013, 06:55
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