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670 to 730, Q39 to Q49 in 7 weeks!! Thank you everyone!

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Joined: 26 Sep 2013
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Concentration: Finance, Economics
GMAT 1: 670 Q39 V41
GMAT 2: 730 Q49 V41
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670 to 730, Q39 to Q49 in 7 weeks!! Thank you everyone! [#permalink] New post 27 Dec 2013, 14:12
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So I took the GMATs back in early November, didn't go so well, you can see my thread here. It wasn't terrible, got an IR8, V41, AW6, but a Q39. Given that I don't have an extensive financial background that REALLY hurt. I'll post a thorough summary of what I did to improve later tonight, but in the meantime I'm too giddy to type coherently, plus I need to eat, go to the gym, then go out to celebrate over dinner for a bit. But first, here's how the actual exam day went.

So I retook the exam today, and did the same thing to prepare this time; a large breakfast at IHOP, and packed 3 Clif Bars, a banana, a canteen of water, and an apple. I felt like my prep last time was fine, didn't get hungry during the exam, so I kept that the same. I figured all the brain activity uses a lot of glycogen so I wanted to load up on carbs, which is the same thing I did last time. I found during test prep the more intense math left me with a ravenous hunger afterwards; I think we underestimate how much brain activity burns up energy. I got to the test center 15 minutes early, I didn't want to get there too much before hand and let nerves or jitters set in, although I was a bit jittery anyway. Did the whole sign in rigamarole, which honestly since I've done it before was actually a bit reassuring, it was like something I was used to, familiar, before I took the exam. One thing I'd like to note; I find reading the instructions before each section is calming. It gives me a bit of a lead-in, and helps me relax instead of just diving face-first into the section. I said my prayers, and got to work. The AW section was actually probably the hardest one I've seen, if only because I actually largely agreed with the statement. So I had to get creative and find where the argument fell short, and how I would have argued the point better. Not sure if I'll hit a 6 again or not. Next it was off the wonderful land of Integrated Reasoning. I got a LOT of graph questions, which I love. I've always been good with graphing as long as I can remember, so that helped. I'm not sure if IR is adaptive or not, because honestly both times I took it, I didn't feel like the questions got much harder.

So next up was a break, and then the quant section. Last time I took the exam I went over on my break, lost 90 seconds, panicked and just clicked through the first few questions in an effort to catch up. Note to others: DON'T DO THIS. This time I was VERY nervous starting out, even though I didn't go over on the break. Just flashing back to last time I guess. I took 3 minutes on the first question, which wasn't even hard, but I wanted to make sure I got it right. I realized something: If you've studied well, know the material, and know how to manipulate problems then you will find some that only take you 30-45 seconds to solve, and you can catch up on time with these. Still, I really thought I bombed the section this time, thought I was heading for Q35. On DS I ended up with 5 or 6 "E's" which is unheard of I think. Several questions I got an answer very close to one of the given answers, but not quite...I think I was nervous and making arithmetic errors. But more than that, so many of the questions seemed easy. I figured I was getting easy question after easy question wrong which was crushing to my self confidence. I kept thinking "well maybe Q39 will get me in somewhere still" while taking the section. A few questions I looked at, and had STRONG inklings about what the answer was, but didn't know how to prove it out exactly.

So after this I took the break, and actually briefly thought "well schools ask for the highest score you got...what if I do great on the verbal and end up with a higher score but lower quant...should I intentionally bomb the verbal so the score is lower?" I shook that out of my head immediately though, I have too much pride. So I took the verbal section; it is what it is. I got a 47 on every prac exam I took, even after the first real gmat....I've taken 8 pracs, got a 47V every time. I ended up with a 41 on the actual exam, which is the same as last time! So anyway, I get through the verbal, and click through the menus and everything and think "do I even look at the score?" I was going to count it for sure, but I was going to try and avoid even looking at the screen when the score popped up. My finger flinched and I clicked the 'next' button though and the score came up. I let out an audible "wait..what? really??" And immediately raised my hand for the lady to come escort me out of the room. It felt like fooooorever for her to come. I wanted to get the score report at the entrance to make sure I actually got what was on the screen: IR8 V41 Q49 730. My scores were exactly the same as last time, but with 10 points higher on the Q. I ran out of the building in leaps and bounds, got in my car, called someone I'm close to who has been very supportive, and then drove home.

I think I was actually extremely prepared for the Quant section this time, and that's why everything seemed easier. I was so worried that the questions were easy, but a month ago maybe those problems would have seemed hellacious to me. Plus the problems that I had a VERY strong inkling on, I think it was because I could eliminate a couple of answer choices immediately, and even 'rotate' or 'work' the problem logically in my head, even if I didn't know how to put things on paper. I also didn't give up on any questions this time either, no plowing through, I was confident I'd get a few here or there throughout that got me back up on pace.

And I want to say thank you thank you thank you to everyone on all the forums. This has been a wonderful resource and I would not known where to look for the help I needed if it hadn't been for this place.


--------
edit: UPDATE: So far so good; got dinged by HBS, but got admitted to NU, and BU, have an interview coming up with BC, and waiting on MIT. NU offered me 70,000 and BU offered 90,000

Last edited by AccipiterQ on 14 Feb 2014, 13:57, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 670 to 730, Q39 to Q49 in 7 weeks!! Thank you everyone! [#permalink] New post 29 Dec 2013, 14:05
Congratulations on an excellent score! I think you must have a great comprehension speed - I cannot imagine 47 on mocks. I would love to know how you improved your quant in 7 weeks. I have 4 weeks and I need to hit 48. I have gone through a lot of practice honestly and most of my concepts are fairly solid now after reviewing after 37Q practice everytime ( I have scored 44 to 47 in mocks). But my timing is still bit slow. In GMAT Prep 3 I did find a few questions that covered topics beyond I typically see (circle equation, lot more probability) and yet I scored 44. So I am not sure what would be best approach to get to 48.

Did you try GMAT Club challenge tests at all? I am halfway through GMAT question pack-1. I get 60% meds correct and may be 30-40% hard correct.
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Re: 670 to 730, Q39 to Q49 in 7 weeks!! Thank you everyone! [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2014, 21:47
Hi AccipiterQ,
Can you elaborate on how you studied after the first test? I didn't do so well on my first test and now need to retake it. I am looking for tips on how to improve my score.
Thanks,
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Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 232
Concentration: Finance, Economics
GMAT 1: 670 Q39 V41
GMAT 2: 730 Q49 V41
Followers: 2

Kudos [?]: 34 [0], given: 40

Re: 670 to 730, Q39 to Q49 in 7 weeks!! Thank you everyone! [#permalink] New post 08 Jan 2014, 07:41
Hi,

I haven't forgotten about this thread; I was buried with work the past week, in the next day or two I'll post what I did to improve!
Manager
Manager
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Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 232
Concentration: Finance, Economics
GMAT 1: 670 Q39 V41
GMAT 2: 730 Q49 V41
Followers: 2

Kudos [?]: 34 [0], given: 40

Re: 670 to 730, Q39 to Q49 in 7 weeks!! Thank you everyone! [#permalink] New post 16 Jan 2014, 19:26
Sorry, had major obligations for work that cropped up. I underestimated how exhausted I was after everything, I'll post more, probably saturday or sunday when I can take a breath
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Manager
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Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 232
Concentration: Finance, Economics
GMAT 1: 670 Q39 V41
GMAT 2: 730 Q49 V41
Followers: 2

Kudos [?]: 34 [0], given: 40

Re: 670 to 730, Q39 to Q49 in 7 weeks!! Thank you everyone! [#permalink] New post 20 Jan 2014, 11:44
Alright, as promised here we go, not sure how long this will end up being.

In the wake of the 670 I got on my first exam I was pretty depressed, but the day after a few friends pointed out that I had gotten perfect scores on 2 sections, and 93rd percentile on another. I knew I had to take it again, but with deadlines looming for applications I had to balance my need for further studying with what I needed to do on my applications. I selected a date of December 27 for the exam. This gave me enough time to study in the ensuing 7 weeks, and also with Christmas right before I had a couple days off from work (which I restarted after the first exam) with which to devote myself to my studies. Now, on to how I changed up strategies.

The first exam prep I focused ENTIRELY on 'knowledge', learning formulas, how to solve different kinds of problems, etc. I had a word document filled with facts and formulas and little tricks to look out for on problems. And you know what, barely any of them came up on the test. Granted, a few did, and that helped, but I felt that there had to be some better way to spend my study time this round. I think Mike Mcgary had posted about how the GMAT wasn't really testing your knowledge, it was more about testing your logic abilities, abstract thinking, and problem solving. With that in mind, I made a plan; I would give some effort into reviewing my guides on subjects, but the next time I took the test I would look at it more analytically, not as a list of problems to solve. Next, I also started to look around for help with the actual strategy to employ on the quant section. I overlooked that almost entirely on the first exam run. I wanted to solve every question with actual formulas. I knew the gmat doesn't know if you're guessing or not, but I wanted to solve EVERYTHING. I was too prideful in that regard.

So with that in mind I went and got the Manhattan advanced quant guide. This guide was completely different than the others; true there are problems to solve and formulas discussed, but it's more than that. As I read through it, I realized it was more about strategies to employ when taking the test. There are sections on how to spot patterns, common problem types, etc. Most importantly, it has sections on how to eliminate answer choices, how to make educated guesses. If you can go from having no idea which answer could be correct on a problem (a 1/5 chance of being correct) to eliminating even 2 of them, you've gone from a 20% chance of being correct to 33%, which is huge on a weighted test like the GMATs. If you get even one or two extra correct that could easily add 2 to your Q score. The guide was also invaluable for DS problems as well. I always felt overwhelmed, and the way in which it broke down strategies on how to handle each stem, and how they interacted with each other was invaluable. I'm betting at least 7 points of the 10 point increase I got was from an improvement here. A lot of my improvement thus came not from knowing the material better, but by strategizing better; realizing that it's ok to guess if it saves you some time for harder problems that you COULD solve. By learning strategies on HOW to guess, by learning the patterns that show up in answers that can clue you in on which are correct, and by looking at the mathematics that go into solving each problem not as the primary method of answering, but merely as a tool that you employ AFTER you figure out what each question is asking you for and has been thoroughly broken down.

Next I looked how I divided up study sessions. I had to balance both applications and studying, so I planned things out ahead and knew what I would be doing each day. This time budgeting extended over into the test itself. I realized that some problems may actually reasonably take longer than 2 minutes to solve, but that others should take you far less. I looked at the time available as a bank that you can deposit or withdraw from. If I only took one minute to solve a problem, then the extra minute went into the bank, and I could withdraw that later on a tougher problem. The first time I took the test I panicked if I took more than about 2:15 for any one problem and would just wildly guess. This time there were no wild guesses because of my time management, and also the educated guesses I could make based on the Manhattan guide. I also didn't go over on time for any of my breaks this time; the first exam I went over by about a minute and a half before the quant section, panicked, and just blew through the first 3 problems. This time I was a bit jittery on the very first problem, I was shaking a bit, and knew it was easy but my brain sort of locked up. I took some deep breaths, acknowledged that I would take longer than 2 minutes to solve this one, but that it was worth it to get off on the right foot, and I could make up time later, which I did. After that I started to feel a bit better, and each question felt like it was getting gradually easier. This worried me a bit, but in retrospect I believe it was a sign that I was well prepared.

Also, coming into this exam I knew I had gotten the 6 on AWA and IR8, so I didn't focus on them very much. I still did them on the prac exams, but I figured you can't get higher than I did already, so hopefully I would get close to that again. Same with verbal, V41 was sufficient for me; I could have maybe spent an extra 150 hours studying and gotten a tad better on SC or something, but my Q score was the one I needed to bump up, as a non-business undergrad/professional, I needed to show that I was capable of the analytic thought needed in programs. So it was really about return on investment, and realizing that I could get WAY more back by focusing on the Quant section. Other loose ends: On test day I followed the same pattern as the first time for pre-meal, etc. and what food I brought, since that part worked out. I also took the day before completely off, I figured I should just relax and refresh so that I didn't go in mentally fatigued.

So as I mentioned, I ended up with a 730, V41, Q49, IR8, and I got my AWA score back, 6!


So far I've gotten an interview request from 2 out of 5 schools, and they're the smaller 2 programs I applied to, so I figured I'd hear from them first. Thanks again for all the help, I'm going to keep on posting and contributing here.
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Re: 670 to 730, Q39 to Q49 in 7 weeks!! Thank you everyone! [#permalink] New post 20 Jan 2014, 12:58
Thank you for the elaborate response. I will look into advance manhattan guide. Congrats again on cracking the GMAT and good luck with your applications. It is rather overwhelming and quite consuming process. I am realizing so as I prepare my essays for one school I am focused on with 3 weeks total to spend! (I am EMBA applicant).
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Concentration: Finance, Economics
GMAT 1: 670 Q39 V41
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Re: 670 to 730, Q39 to Q49 in 7 weeks!! Thank you everyone! [#permalink] New post 20 Jan 2014, 13:03
sophrosyne wrote:
Thank you for the elaborate response. I will look into advance manhattan guide. Congrats again on cracking the GMAT and good luck with your applications. It is rather overwhelming and quite consuming process. I am realizing so as I prepare my essays for one school I am focused on with 3 weeks total to spend! (I am EMBA applicant).


It's crazy how consuming it is, right? It's literally en entire other job in addition to whatever one you already have. By the end of it all I barely even remembered what it was like to be able to relax. I felt odd for a few days afterward, I didn't know what to do with myself haha
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Joined: 26 Sep 2013
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Concentration: Finance, Economics
GMAT 1: 670 Q39 V41
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Kudos [?]: 34 [0], given: 40

Re: 670 to 730, Q39 to Q49 in 7 weeks!! Thank you everyone! [#permalink] New post 14 Feb 2014, 13:56
So far so good; got dinged by HBS, but got admitted to NU, and BU, have an interview coming up with BC, and waiting on MIT. NU offered me 70,000 and BU offered 90,000
Re: 670 to 730, Q39 to Q49 in 7 weeks!! Thank you everyone!   [#permalink] 14 Feb 2014, 13:56
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