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710(Q48, V39) AWA-5 IR-6

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710(Q48, V39) AWA-5 IR-6 [#permalink] New post 02 Jan 2014, 11:56
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Hi guys,


I am from Quebec, the French speaking part of Canada. English is thus my second language. I did my undergrad in Ottawa, Ontario in Mechanical Engineering. Although I did not fail any class, I was never in the top end of my class. Studying there allowed me to speak better English. I graduated 2 ½ years ago and I have been working as a project manager since then. Work was slowing down for the fall and I took the opportunity to prepare for the test.

I have been looking forward to this preparation for quite a few years now. When initially planning it, I red many posts on this forum. I then thought that I needed to get enrolled in a class and buy several books with details about the various sections. So I bought the complete MGMAT Prep Set along with their advanced quant book. I also enrolled in one of their online course starting on the first week of September. Before it started, I took some time to read as many posts as possible about people who got 700+. I also booked my exam date 3 months later on November 23rd and reviewed the average score of programs I was interested in. The course suggested that I take a practice exam before it started in order to evaluate the improvement. I took one and got 550 (Q38, V28).

First Phase: Theory Learning
My preparation had two really distinct phases. The first one could be referred to as the base building phase whereas the second was the one in which I improved the most. The first two months are easy to describe. I started my online course with two great teachers: Jamie Nelson and Dmitry Farber. The course comes complete with a detailed Syllabus that I followed every week. It takes you through the various books and makes you apply what you learned with the Official Guide. I felt overwhelmed with the amount of information at first and this plan helped me to get started. Although the plan is well thought of, I was rarely on time with my homework and now I can tell you that I should have pushed harder at first and done the extra questions for each section. Doing only the minimum as I did makes it hard to really learn the concepts. I had to go back to my notes in the second phase because of that. Since the beginning, I always used their online tool to keep track of the questions you have done: OG Archer. You should too!

The online class was good overall. Even though the nine 3h sessions are quite short, I was able to get much motivation from it. I do not know for you, but I did not know anybody else who was doing the exam and 4 months alone in a basement is awfully long… Being able to interact with other students and with the teachers online was a big thing for me. During this time, I wrote 2 mock tests:
MGMAT 2: Sept. 29th: 580 (Q42, V29)
MGMAT 3: Oct. 27th: 580 (Q41, V29)

I was a little disappointed after my third mock test. I felt like all I had done in the last month was garbage. I would definitely not be ready for my exam on the 23rd and I decided to cancel the test. I did not feel ready and I did not want to lose a full weekend to write a useless exam. I booked another test on December 27th, during the holiday. Fortunately, MGMAT study plan was almost over. I took a full week off in mid-November to go hunting. That was a wonderful thing to do. As much as I was exhausted and lacking motivation before that week, I felt more motivated than ever to take on the real part: doing as many problems as possible.

Second Phase: Practical Learning
Considering that I was able to improve my score by a mere 30 points in the first two months, this part represents the moment when I truly improved my score. I have to admit that it would have probably been impossible for me to get to the 700 level without building a strong base. So please do not overlook this step. My plan from then on was to go through the OG while mixing up different sections every day. I could feel my progression as the hard and devilish questions kept getting easier each day. It took me a good 3 weeks to go through the OG13. I did three mock test during that time:
MGMAT 4: Nov. 24th: 700 (Q41, V43)
MGMAT 5: Nov. 30th: 670 (Q45, V36)
MGMAT 6: Dec. 8th: 660 (Q45, V35)

As much as I was happy about my 700; I was totally devastated by my 660 two weeks later. I could not figure out how I would be able to get a steady score over 700 three weeks later. I felt like the GMAT was playing some games with me. I had the impression there was a virtual wall between my desire to get more than 700 and reality.
From that point, I took action to make sure I would reach my goal:
- I asked my boss to take some time off during the workday to work on my prep;
- I downloaded the 700+ question pack from Bunuel;
- I purchased the GMAT Prep Exam Pack;
- I took my studying from 15h/week to 30h/week.
- I wrote down a schedule to review all of the missed problems in OG 13 and go through half the quant problems from Bunuel along with some CR and most of SC.
After 3 days, I took my first GMATPrep mock test. I scored 680 (Q48, V35). Then I realized most of my improvement would come from verbal. I spent most of my time on reviewing SC and going through Bunuel’s. Wow, those questions were awesome. I learned more from reviewing his answers in a few days of SC than in the rest of my prep. I took another mock test 6 days later and scored 760: (Q50, V44). Unfortunately, this score was mostly unjustified. More than half the questions were explained in Bunuel’s stuff. I felt happy to know how it feels to go through a test like a 98th percentile, but it was fake. It was then the end of the year at work and I had too much stuff going on the study for two days. Saturday morning, I took my third GMATPrep test: 730: (Q49, V41). Now this was true happiness: no known questions and a real score. I was feeling confident for both my last mock test and the exam. I ten finished reviewing my missed questions, kept working on Bunuel’s collection and took a final test: 730 (Q48, V41). This was in the morning of Christmas’ Eve. Then I spent the next two days eating and drinking while celebrating Christmas with my folks.
In summary:
GMATPrep 1: Dec. 12th: 680 (Q48, V35)
GMATPrep 2: Dec 18th: 760: (Q50, V44)
GMATPrep 3: Dec 21st: 730: (Q49, V41)
GMATPrep 4: Dec 24th: 730 (Q48, V41)

Test Day:

The test was in Montreal at 8am and I was staying at the hotel the night before. I slept well and woke up at 6am. At 7h30 I was at the door of the test center. After reading the rules, I had to sign a touch board and they took a reading of each of my hand palms. I started the test calm but a little sleepy. For my essay, I followed a template I learned the day before and finished writing it a bit in a hurry. (I got my score a few days later: 5.0; template from chineseburned) I then completed the IR section (I scored a not so great 6). I took a break and started the quant section in a mindset that it was the last time I was doing this. In the 60 seconds I had to review the guidelines, I wrote down a time frame according to another post I red earlier:
0 7 14 21 28 35 37 Question number (+7)
75 61 47 33 19 5 0 Time left (-14)
There were many hard inequalities DS questions (not my favorite), but other than that it seemed just like the other mock tests I did. I finished with a few minutes to spare. I took another break and processed to start the verbal section. Again, I wrote my time frame:
0 10 20 30 40 41 Question number (+10)
75 57 39 21 3 0 Time left (-18)
For some reason, it started with several difficult SC questions about idioms. As you could expect, those are not my favorite once again. I was behind schedule by a few minutes about halfway through the section. I was able to come back and completed the exam with a 30 seconds left. At the end, you have to go through a few screens and then you must accept your score before you can see it. Finally, I was able to see my final score: 710 (V39, Q48).

I must admit I was a little disappointed as I had been getting better scores in my latest mock tests. The good thing is that my cab driver was able to put things back in perspective for me on my way back to the airport. I told him how I just wrote a test for which I have been studying for the past 4 months. When he asked me what I got, I ended up telling him that it represented a 92th percentile score. His reaction did the trick: “Wow dude, that’s an amazing score! What are you complaining about?” That was perhaps a very good question to ask. When I looked back at my initial goal I realized that it has always been to get over 700.

I know this is not a 99th percentile score, but I wanted to give back to this forum some of what I was able to get from it. I truly hope you have been able to learn something from it. I also take the opportunity to wish you the best of luck on your exam and thank you in advance for the Kudos!

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Last edited by fxbonneville on 03 Jan 2014, 19:55, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: 04 Oct 2013
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Location: United States
Concentration: Finance, Leadership
GMAT 1: 590 Q40 V30
GPA: 3.98
WE: Project Management (Entertainment and Sports)
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Re: 550 to 710(Q48, V39) AWA-5 IR-6 [#permalink] New post 03 Jan 2014, 05:41
Awesome debrief my friend, I wasn't expecting a grin to pop up in my face. I loved it.

Either suffer the pain of discipline, or suffer the pain of regret.

If my posts are helping you show some love awarding a kudos

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Re: 550 to 710(Q48, V39) AWA-5 IR-6 [#permalink] New post 09 Jan 2014, 16:18
gmat6nplus1 wrote:
Awesome debrief my friend, I wasn't expecting a grin to pop up in my face. I loved it.

Thanks man, I appreciate it. Best of luck on yours!
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Re: 710(Q48, V39) AWA-5 IR-6 [#permalink] New post 26 Jan 2014, 17:11
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Congratulations! I'm glad we were able to get you on the right track.


Dmitry Farber | Manhattan GMAT Instructor | New York

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Re: 710(Q48, V39) AWA-5 IR-6 [#permalink] New post 27 Jan 2014, 10:14
First off Congrats FX !

And thanks for sharing the your story . I was actually gonna start my preparation for my GMAT and was wondering on how to do it ,
you're debrief really helped me in that aspect .

Thanks and again grats !!

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Re: 710(Q48, V39) AWA-5 IR-6 [#permalink] New post 27 Jan 2014, 15:27

Thanks for your post. Is it worthwhile to purchase "GMAT Prep Exam Pack" ? Is there any overlap between the questions in "GMAT Prep Exam Pack" and other materials like OG13, "FREE GMATPrep® Software" etc. ?
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Re: 710(Q48, V39) AWA-5 IR-6 [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2014, 19:44
batman08 wrote:

Thanks for your post. Is it worthwhile to purchase "GMAT Prep Exam Pack" ? Is there any overlap between the questions in "GMAT Prep Exam Pack" and other materials like OG13, "FREE GMATPrep® Software" etc. ?


By the time I actually decided to purchase the pack, I had done all MGMAT tests and one of the two free tests. I do not remember noticing any overlap between the two packs.
Unfortunately, I was halfway through Bunuel's questions and many were coming from the free tests, so I there was an overlap for me. Although, I don't think there is much of an overlap between his stuff and the Prep Pack.
So I do think it is worth getting an extra 2 tests. They are, in my opinion, the best practice tests you can get.

Re: 710(Q48, V39) AWA-5 IR-6   [#permalink] 05 Feb 2014, 19:44
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