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630 to 770 (Q49, V47)

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630 to 770 (Q49, V47) [#permalink] New post 30 Aug 2010, 16:58
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Test Date: August 28, 8:00 a.m.

Study duration: Mid-May to test date

Books & materials used: Kaplan GMAT 2010-2011 Premier, OG12, OG Quant, OG Verbal, MGMAT Sentence Correction, MGMAT Number Properties, GMAT Club forums

The story:


I decided in May to take the GMAT, downloaded the GMAT prep software from and took the test pretty much blind. I got a 630, something like Q42, V35 (I HATE that you lose your scores on the GMAT prep software). I had decided that I was going to have to score well enough to get into a top part-time program. I figured a 630 was a high enough score to build on to get a 700 or so, especially since I was absolutely dumbfounded by sentence correction and data sufficiency. Scheduled the GMAT for August 19, and bought the Kaplan book, OG12, OG Quant, and OG Verbal. I started out doing all problems timed, which I have mixed feelings about. Another very useful, highly recommended resource is an error log. gmat-error-log-86232.html I used the “friendly error log by saruba”, but I didn’t really need all the functionality - I just used the list so I knew which problems to revisit down the line.

I began with study approach outlined on the forum here: gmat-study-plan-for-gmat-novices-start-your-gmat-journey-80727.html I planned on spinning June on Quant, July on Verbal, and August on my especially weak areas, practice tests, and strategy.

I began on the quant section of the Kaplan book in early June and went through it quickly. The theory, explanations and problems are really pretty elementary - the best information I received from the quant section was the “1-2-TEN” explanation for DS and their tips for guessing and estimating. I mainly spent the rest of the month going though quant problems in OG12 and a couple problems on the GMAT club forums. After doing the first 30 OG12 questions in order, I realized I needed more of a challenge. My solution was to do every tenth problem rather than all problems in order. So now, I was doing problems 31, 41, 51, etc. This way I got some warmup problems and some difficult questions in every session, and ended up doing 35-45 timed problems a session, lasting about 1.5 hours, making my sessions similar to a test. I did most of the problems in OG 12 by the end of the month.

I attacked verbal in July in a similar manner, only this time I began doing every tenth RC and SC question in OG 12, and just did RC in order, because RC came pretty easily for me. I also tried to do about 5-10 quant questions a day, also. Midway through July, I realized I was struggling most with Number Properties and Sentence Correction, so I purchased the MGMAT guides for both. (The reviews of their CAT’s were also a major plus). Once these books arrived, I decided to start my practice test, weak spot review a couple weeks early.

The first practice test I did was Kaplan’s online test. I also did 3 or 4 of these included on the CD but I won’t bother looking up my scores on these because I felt like the scoring was complete garbage, as many have mentioned here. They are fairly useful for timing purposes, however. I just wouldn’t bother looking at the scores. I did most of my early tests in the library or my house in the evening after work. In retrospect, this wasn’t the best way to get accurate scores - fatigue was always a big problem, as I felt like rushing through the second half of verbal just to see a score. The first MGMAT test seemed RIDICULOUSLY tough, especially in quant. I was rushing the entire time, thought the questions were extremely difficult, and barely finished. They got easier as I got used to the timing and worked on my weak spots - you should spend a lot of time reviewing what you got wrong and what you spent the most time on. This is essential! Anyway, here are the MGMAT scores (none were taken w/ AWA):

MGMAT 1: 690, Q45, V39
MGMAT 2: 700, Q46, V40
MGMAT 3: 720, Q47, V42
MGMAT 4: 710, Q48, V38 (I did this one in my hotel while travelling for work, the dropoff in verbal was a direct reflection of how exhausted I was. I just couldn’t focus at all. This showed me the importance of being well-rested and testing your fatigue at the same time of day as your test.)

I did about 1 test a week - the rest of the week I did a few problems from the OG Quant and Verbal books and a few problems I had gotten wrong previously on my error log. At this time, I also took a step back and stopped doing all questions timed. Why? I realized that rushing through a problem I failed to understand was a complete waste of my time - spending the extra time and discovering the solution on my own often helped me gain a better understanding of the concept, however, and would therefore help on the real thing.

In early August, I had a family emergency that really threw off my schedule and forced me to reschedule the GMAT from August 19 to August 28. I looked through some brief AWA guides, thought it looked pretty simple, and decided I was ready for a full blown GMAT Prep exam complete with AWA. I made sure I had plenty of time and was well rested. The results:

770! (Q50, V46, I think)

Wow! I thought it was an anomaly - I’d never even sniffed 740 on the MGMAT or Kaplan CAT’s. So, I kept doing new problems and old difficult problems, and on the Saturday before my test, I decided to do my fifth MGMAT CAT at 8:00 AM (same time as the real thing).

I ended up with a 760! (Q49, V45). At this point, I’m still not convinced that I might be a 99%’er. So I take my final GMAT Prep the Wednesday before the real thing: 770 again! (Q49, V47)

The "Real Thing:"

The day of the test, I arrived to the testing center about 40 minutes early (after a 45 minute drive), grabbed some starbucks around the corner, and went inside. For whatever reason, I really didn’t look into what the test center would be like. I brought some snacks and the coffee I mentioned, but I wasn’t prepared for the masses of noisy people taking various licensing exams at the same time (or the rude administrators). I brought earplugs, but was told I could only use earplugs supplied by Pearson.

The AWA went by without any issues, except my break was too long and I lost 35 seconds on quant. I freaked out about this for a while, but got on track time-wise after a few easy DS problems. Most of the quant section was pretty straightforward, with the exception of some absolutely wacky geometry problems that I didn’t even bother trying to compute - I went straight to educated guessing and focused on the content I knew (which was all but 2 or 3 questions). The problem was the Starbucks I so wisely purchased earlier really, really made me feel the urge to use the restroom. The final few problems were tough, and afterward I thought about the guy on the forum that got a 790 by not using the restroom and chuckled to myself in a very dorky, gmat-clubber kind of way. :)

Verbal had no surprises, but I was kind of worried about my performance when I didn’t see a “bold” CR question - my last 3 prep CAT’s all had bold questions, and their absence made me think I wasn’t doing well. No worries, though, the results:

770, Q49, V47

Now, instead of just looking at local weekend programs, I’m going to shoot for full time at Haas, Kellogg, Ross, McCombs, (and maybe Sloan) with the goal of going into cleantech product management or corporate sustainability after graduation. Hopefully my score helps with scholarships!

Some general thoughts:

You don’t need to get 90% of questions right in your prep to get a great score. MGMAT provides great reports on how you do on the different types of problems, and I was hitting like 20% on 700-800 level SC questions. I also missed at least 7 problems in the quant section of each CAT I took.

Practice tests are essential for timing and endurance. Try to simulate them as closely as you can to the real thing.

The marker boards are somewhat annoying, but I only practiced on pen and paper and had little issues

Verbal:

There is absolutely no substitute for the Official Guide. Every other source frequently employed questionable logic on several problem, in my opinion. I never encountered an OG problem that I missed and didn’t see why. You should do every single OG Verbal problem.

Everyone raves about MGMAT SC, but I didn’t get a lot out of it, honestly. The first chapters were fairly basic to me (I am a US Native), but the advanced chapters were far to advanced for me to retain anything. Again, OG, OG, OG is the key to success here.

Quant:

Probability isn’t a big deal. I never spent a great deal of time learning advanced probability problems - learn the most basic probability concepts and you will be fine.

I got the most benefit from reworking problems I got wrong previously. I missed enough in my prep that I didn’t even bother reworking problems I guessed on - on problems I got wrong.

Know the concepts! A lot of people say do everything timed, but working through difficult problems untimed will lead to success in a timed setting.

GMAT forums are a great source - explain solutions to others if you can.



I know I benefited a great deal from these forums, I hope this can be my way of giving back a little. :)
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Re: 630 to 770 (Q49, V47) [#permalink] New post 30 Aug 2010, 17:26
Excellent debrief! Good luck with your admissions process :) And congrats! A 770 is a terrific score!
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Re: 630 to 770 (Q49, V47) [#permalink] New post 30 Aug 2010, 18:08
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Wow. Fantastic job with 770!!!!

Looks like your GMAT preps were perfectly aligned.

Definitely go for the top schools but do spend a ton of time on essays - those are critical. Take a look at the books here best-mba-books-99173.html (I have not used any for my admissions but now as I am going through them, I wish I did).
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Re: 630 to 770 (Q49, V47) [#permalink] New post 30 Aug 2010, 18:19
mc wrote:
...a few easy DS problems. Most of the quant section was pretty straightforward, with the exception of some absolutely wacky geometry problems that I didn’t even bother trying to compute - I went straight to educated guessing and focused on the content I knew (which was all but 2 or 3 questions)...


Congratulations! What a fantastic score.

You should definitely try and use this score to get a scholarship at whichever school you are applying to.

How would you compare the Quant section in the real thing vs that in the GMAT prep? Which are the areas in the quant section one should concentrate on to get a score around Q46-47?
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Re: 630 to 770 (Q49, V47) [#permalink] New post 30 Aug 2010, 18:21
Thanks a lot for the debrief. Its very helpful.
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My gmat story
MGMAT1 - 630 Q44V32
MGMAT2 - 650 Q41V38
MGMAT3 - 680 Q44V37
GMATPrep1 - 660 Q49V31
Knewton1 - 550 Q40V27

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Re: 630 to 770 (Q49, V47) [#permalink] New post 30 Aug 2010, 18:54
akaydee wrote:
mc wrote:
...a few easy DS problems. Most of the quant section was pretty straightforward, with the exception of some absolutely wacky geometry problems that I didn’t even bother trying to compute - I went straight to educated guessing and focused on the content I knew (which was all but 2 or 3 questions)...


Congratulations! What a fantastic score.

You should definitely try and use this score to get a scholarship at whichever school you are applying to.

How would you compare the Quant section in the real thing vs that in the GMAT prep? Which are the areas in the quant section one should concentrate on to get a score around Q46-47?


Quant in GMAT is very comparable to GMAT prep. Like I said, there were some geometry problems that were unlike anything I'd ever seen, but only on a couple.

I would just say work on one or two especially weak areas - for me, I realized pretty quickly that number properties were tripping me up more anything (even the most basic problems), so I got the MGMAT Number properties guide and slowly went through it the last month and a half of prep. Your weak spot may be geometry or something else. I mentioned not focusing too much on probability only because it seems like those problems get a disproportionately high amount of attention on the forums.
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Re: 630 to 770 (Q49, V47) [#permalink] New post 30 Aug 2010, 20:16
congrats......excellent score ...great debrief... +1
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Re: 630 to 770 (Q49, V47) [#permalink] New post 30 Aug 2010, 22:26
Fantabulous performance...
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Re: 630 to 770 (Q49, V47) [#permalink] New post 31 Aug 2010, 00:49
Great Score, dude !
Heartiest Congratulations. All the best with your apps.
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Re: 630 to 770 (Q49, V47) [#permalink] New post 31 Aug 2010, 03:48
Congrats on the awesome score.
Love your debrief , you make it all sound so simple and do-able :)
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Re: 630 to 770 (Q49, V47) [#permalink] New post 31 Aug 2010, 03:49
How about CR? Did you just practice OG or did you get any specific CR books/materials?
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Re: 630 to 770 (Q49, V47) [#permalink] New post 31 Aug 2010, 04:20
resh wrote:
Congrats on the awesome score.
Love your debrief , you make it all sound so simple and do-able :)


It is! I forgot to mention that I took one of the GMAT Club Tests early in my study (Memorial Day) and was absolutely floored. Ended up in the 22nd percentile. I realize those percentile results can be skewed, and they are extremely difficult, but there were definitely periods where I felt overwhelmed or that I would end up with a 650 or something.

resh wrote:
How about CR? Did you just practice OG or did you get any specific CR books/materials?


No, I only read the Kaplan chapter and answered the OG questions. I also recommend browsing a few question discussions a day on the CR board here - it helps you understand the different question types, and also lets you know that others are making similar mistakes. I think the key here is to see as many official questions as possible and understand the logic behind them - you begin to see obvious patterns and traps. Also, I mentioned earlier, the logic in OG questions always made sense to me after a review, unlike the logic in questions from alternative sources.

I should also mention that I really benefited from practice tests on CR. I started doing CR questions timed, with moderate success. After a couple practice tests, I always ended up finishing with plenty of time. Because of this, I never had to rush through a tough CR problem. When I started on an especially difficult CR (or SC or RC) question, I wrote down the five answer choices and crossed out the obvious wrong choices as I came across them. Even though you can't cross out the choices on the screen, this really helped me focus on possible answers - many of my early mistakes came from skimming answer choices and guessing to quickly, and I'm sure you've noticed that sometimes all the answers can kind of run together when you're looking at five at once. I only discovered that I had time to use this method after several practice tests, and as a result I didn't miss a CR question on my last two GMAT preps.

CR summary:

1) OG OG OG!!!
2) Use practice tests to develop a complete verbal timing strategy
3) Use process of elimination on pen and paper as often as you can, but especially on difficult problems.

Last edited by mc on 01 Sep 2010, 10:30, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 630 to 770 (Q49, V47) [#permalink] New post 01 Sep 2010, 10:19
[quote="mc]CR summary:

1) OG OG OG!!!
2) Use practice tests to develop a complete verbal timing strategy
3) Use process of elimination on pen and paper as often as you can, but especially on difficult problems.[/quote]

Thanks for the detailed debrief.
All the best with your application process.
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Re: 630 to 770 (Q49, V47) [#permalink] New post 01 Sep 2010, 17:55
Congrats !
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Re: 630 to 770 (Q49, V47) [#permalink] New post 02 Sep 2010, 19:17
Heartiest Congratulations on great score :)
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Re: 630 to 770 (Q49, V47) [#permalink] New post 02 Sep 2010, 20:51
gr88 score and debrief too!!!! gud luck for your app!!!

can you please let us know if RC and SC were also in the level of GMATPrep, OG or more difficult ?
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Re: 630 to 770 (Q49, V47) [#permalink] New post 03 Sep 2010, 00:28
WOW, Gr& Score !!! Congrats ...
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Re: 630 to 770 (Q49, V47) [#permalink] New post 03 Sep 2010, 05:29
srivicool wrote:
gr88 score and debrief too!!!! gud luck for your app!!!

can you please let us know if RC and SC were also in the level of GMATPrep, OG or more difficult ?


RC and SC were VERY comparable to GMATPrep and OG. Really, MGMAT's CAT's are pretty comparable as well. MGMAT may be slightly more difficult, but not much.
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Re: 630 to 770 (Q49, V47) [#permalink] New post 03 Sep 2010, 05:57
Excellent work! Best of luck on your applications. Thanks for taking the time to detail your studies.
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Re: 630 to 770 (Q49, V47) [#permalink] New post 03 Sep 2010, 07:24
awesome! congrats!

Did you also use the The Official Guide for GMAT Verbal Review [Book]?? i don't think i will have enough time before i take the exam to do all the verbal questions from the OG. Did you do all the verbal questions in the OG?
Re: 630 to 770 (Q49, V47)   [#permalink] 03 Sep 2010, 07:24
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