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590 (Q34 V36) --> 730 (Q50 V38) in 29 days

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590 (Q34 V36) --> 730 (Q50 V38) in 29 days [#permalink] New post 13 Jun 2013, 13:52
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Because it helped me a lot during my preparation process to read other people's experiences, I decided to share my own experience here. I'd also like to ask you a question regarding my AWA (essay). I would appreciate it if you could kindly respond.

I will organize my post in chronological order:

1) Actually, I decided to take the GMAT 1.5 months ago. My goal was to get anything above 700. To see where I stood, I took GMAT Prep #1.
Here's my score.
GMAT Prep #1: 660 (Q47, V34)
I did take the test within the given amount of time (75 minutes for each section) but was unable to take the exam in one sitting. I had to stop the exam to take a phone call and attend an hour-long meeting. So I was not sure how realistic this score was. For the Verbal section, I missed a total of 11 questions, and 10 of them were from SC. For Quant, I ran out of time. My strategy at this point was to focus on SC.

2) For the next two weeks, the only thing I did was I casually spent about an hour each day reading Manhattan's SC book while sipping my tea. After all, I was not so worried about getting a 700+ score. Then, the reality hit me when I took the first Manhattan CAT test (29 days ago).
Here's my score:
MGMAT #1: 590 (Q34, V36). I was devastated. And this is when I REALLY started preparing for the GMAT mentally, emotionally, and physically.

3) For the next 7 days, I spent about 3 hours every day reading Manhattan GMAT Roadmap, reviewing Manhattan SC (second time), working on RC, and going over Quant (I went over Manhattan Word problems and Number Properties). Reading GMAT Roadmap, I realized that my primary problem was in time management.
I took another mock test after this 7-day period. My score was:
MGMAT #2: 690 (Q44, V39).
But I needed to consume two cans of red bulls while I was taking the test. And I lost 1.5 minutes during the Verbal section because I had to run to the bathroom (most likely because of the excessive amount of caffeine I took). Here, I realized that I needed to learn how to stay alert without having to consume caffeine during the entire exam. And this is when I signed up for the GMAT, exactly 22 days from this date.

4) So for the next 8 days, I had to train myself not to consume caffeine and still stay alert. And I continued to spend about 3 hours each day working on SC (about 70mins each day), RC/CR (70mins each day, alternating), and Quant (on avg 40 mins each day). At the end of this 8-day period, I took another mock exam. My score was:
MGMAT #3: 700 (Q46, V40).
I was happy to see my score improve in both sections.

5) And for the next 8 days, I started looking into OG problems. I continued to spend about 3 hours each day -- about 1 hr on SC, 1hr on RC/CR (alternating days), and 1hr on Quant. At the end of this 8 day period, I took another mock exam. Shockingly, my score went down and I was only 6 days away from the actual GMAT !!!
My score was
MGMAT #4: 660 (Q45, V35).
I was devastated again. I did not understand why my verbal score dropped so much. I never struggled in CR and RC before but on this particular exam, I did terribly on CR and RC. I thought about postponing my GMAT. But after reading posts about other people's experiences, I realized that MGMAT exams are not always representative of the real GMAT exam.

6) After 2 days (4 days before GMAT), I took another MGMAT.
And my score went down even more this time.
MGMAT #5: 650 (Q45, V34). I did NOT understand why my verbal score was falling. Again, I missed a bunch of questions in CR and RC. I kept on thinking about postponing my GMAT. I started spending more time on CR.

7) 2 days later (2 days before GMAT), I took GMAT Prep #2. I was told earlier that GMAT Prep is more representative of the real GMAT, so I had saved GMAT Prep #2. By this time, I had a routine: I had a small meal about an hour before the exam, a banana with 2 sips of Gatorade after the AWA/IR section, and an energy bar with 2 sips of Gatorade right after Quant section. I was relieved to see my GMAT Prep #2 score:
GMAT Prep #2: 730 (Q48, V42).
I did not struggle in CR and RC on this exam. So perhaps the Verbal (and Quant) section of MGMAT #4 and MGMAT #5 might not be very representative of the real exam -- at least from my experience.

8) And finally, I took the GMAT today. I had my routine down by this time, and I just executed it.
GMAT: 730 (Q50, V38).
I thought the SC problems from the real GMAT were much more difficult than those from the mock exams. Other than the SC problems, I thought the real GMAT was more similar to the GMAT Prep exams than the MGMAT CAT exams. I was hoping I would get at least 40 in the Verbal section but I am pretty content with my score. And it might sound a bit strange but the ups and downs that I experienced during the past 29 days reminded me of the importance of my spiritual journey.

Here's my question for you. For the essay section, I only had a total of 4 paragraphs. The basic structure of my essay looks like this:

Intro: 2 sentences. The 2nd sentence was a thesis sentence: "the argument is weak because of reason A and reason B."

Body#1: About 4 sentences dedicated to reason A

Body #2: About 4 sentences dedicated to reason B

Conclusion: 2 sentences.

My Question: can you get a score of 5.5+ if you only had 4 paragraphs (with 2 main reasons)?

Thanks!
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Re: 590 (Q34 V36) --> 730 (Q50 V38) in 29 days [#permalink] New post 02 Jul 2013, 08:57
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First off, congrats serpent333 for the terrific score and improvement in only a month! Your debrief will hopefully help some other people looking to make similar improvements in their scores.

I can't say for sure whether you can get a 5.5+ with only two body paragraphs on the AWA, in theory yes if they're particularly well supported. If you end up with something like a 5, I don't think it's a big concern, especially with a 700+ GMAT score. I'd only be worried if it was below a 4, which is highly unlikely with such a strong GMAT score as it's basically the same verbal concepts tested in long-answer form. Please keep us advised on your official AWA score when it comes in the mail.

Also, the GMAT exam is entirely designed to reward those who are fresh and well rested. It's an exam of relatively simple concepts asked in confusing ways to see who can break through the clutter and the fluff. On top of that, it's like 4 hours long, so if you were feeling fresh in hour one you may not be so into it by hour four. Anything less than total mental focus can only drop your score. I'm not quite seeing the "being physically in shape" aspect tring375 mentioned, unless you just mean sleeping well and therefore being rested. The GMAT doesn't give extra points for having abs or big arms, although it may be worth doing an experiment in that regard!

Hope this helps!
-Ron
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Re: 590 (Q34 V36) --> 730 (Q50 V38) in 29 days [#permalink] New post 16 Jun 2013, 06:56
Congrats on the fantastic score.
What would you attribute the raised score of 50 in quant compared to 48 in your prep?
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Re: 590 (Q34 V36) --> 730 (Q50 V38) in 29 days [#permalink] New post 16 Jun 2013, 07:58
140 points improvement in 29 days..Amazing man!
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Re: 590 (Q34 V36) --> 730 (Q50 V38) in 29 days [#permalink] New post 16 Jun 2013, 09:27
Hi Tring375, good observation. Actually, I would prefer a "more balanced score" such as Q48/49 and V40+. Here's my theory:

I think the Quant section (Verbal too, but for me I always had more time-management problems with Quant section) is all about time management. Because we cannot use calculators or MATLAB (to run simulations etc), you need to be wise about how to approach each problem. That said, I don't think any of the Quant problems are difficult because most people can solve 99-100% of the problems if they just had more time.

So I learned to make quick, educated guesses if I got stuck on a problem too long (1.5- 2 minutes). I tried to stick to the time management guideline in Manhattan GMAT Roadmap. It's tempting because let's say you are stuck on a Data Sufficiency problem, and you need to test out different ranges of x (say x<-1, x=-1, -1<x<0, 0<x<1, x>1). Let's say 1.5 minutes into the problem, you realize that you made a calculation mistake. Then do you go back and re-test everything? It's a tough decision. Well, more importantly, you shouldn't have made that calculation error in the first place. But under time pressure, I found myself making lots of calculation errors too.

I think over time, I learned to make better decisions. Also, I noticed that the amount of time I sleep has a good correlation with the quality of decisions I make as well as with my calculation accuracy under time pressure. I took GMAT Prep #2 on 6.5 hours of sleep. The night before GMAT, I slept 10 hours.
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Re: 590 (Q34 V36) --> 730 (Q50 V38) in 29 days [#permalink] New post 02 Jul 2013, 08:32
serpent333 wrote:
I think over time, I learned to make better decisions. Also, I noticed that the amount of time I sleep has a good correlation with the quality of decisions I make as well as with my calculation accuracy under time pressure. I took GMAT Prep #2 on 6.5 hours of sleep. The night before GMAT, I slept 10 hours.

Hi Serpent333,
It is amazing how the test scores vary with the mental well being or conditioning. A relaxed mind vs tired, alert vs fatigued body- the scores bare it at all levels. To give a rough analogy, Spain recently got beaten by Brazil 3-0 in cup final football match. It was mind-boggling to hear the result at first notice. But wait, what was the reason the best team in the world got defeated so emphatically?
Apparently, Spain were exhausted after their marathon match with Italy just a couple of days earlier, while Brazil had more rest days.
I dont know if it is done on purpose, but Gmat punishes you consistently for being in a poor mental or physical conditioning. The former cause is understandable but the latter cause is amazing, you have to give it to the gmac guys who do it so effectively!!
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Re: 590 (Q34 V36) --> 730 (Q50 V38) in 29 days [#permalink] New post 04 Jul 2013, 04:14
Thanks for your encouraging comments, Ron. I ended up getting a 5 on the AWA.

I agree with Tring 375 and Ron regarding how the GMAT exam is designed to reward those who are fresh and well rested. I like the Brazil vs Spain football match analogy. :)

By the way, what would you say is an appropriate IR score?
Re: 590 (Q34 V36) --> 730 (Q50 V38) in 29 days   [#permalink] 04 Jul 2013, 04:14
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