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700 (47, 39) - GMAT Epilogue

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700 (47, 39) - GMAT Epilogue [#permalink] New post 20 Nov 2009, 11:15
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My GMAT arrived to an (successful) end. Here I'll explain in detail my preparation, conclusions, sensations and advice.

The Start point
I'm at the last year of my bachelor in Advertising and Public Relations and want to study a MSc in Management in London. I was lucky to find out about GMAT early, since I had 6 months in front to prepare for the exam. At the moment I had the 'Certificate in Advanced English' but honestly I hadn't a strong command of English. I clearly see now that the language factor is huge in the GMAT. Also, my math skills were, to be precise, 0. I had left maths a long time ago and never practiced again, except for a few accounting exercises that didn't help a lot. However, I'm good with numbers, I'm a programmer so it wasn't a pain in the ass actually, having to remember all these math concepts.

Preparation
The first thing I did after looking through the mba website was to go to Amazon, type 'GMAT', and see what happens. I was like hours reading books, reviews, etc. I regard as very important knowing the initial skills you have when deciding which stuff to buy, in order that you don't get disappointed. I bought the EZ series that were so popular in Amazon, although afterwards I read in GMATClub that the reviews were mere spam. Despite that matter, I think these materials have helped me a lot and are worthy if you are a 0 in maths. Maybe the MGMAT series are better than those, I can't tell you about that. The thing is that if you have forgot everything about maths I recommend you to spent some time reviewing the basics. I was like 2 months reviewing these books in a quite pace, mainly in the train while I was going to the uni, 30' a day or so.

Then I started with the OG, I calculated a pattern in order to finish all the sections at the same time, I believe it was 20/12/6/7/7 (ps/ds/rc/cr/sc). I finished in 3 weeks or less. I had to stop for a while because I needed to study for my career exams.
Once finished, I started the GMAT Club Tests. I made a calendar and distributed the tests in a 3-week period. I was planning to do 2 tests every 4 days in a week. I did 4 tests the first 2 days, and then was never able to repeat it. I then decided to do 1 everyday, and apart from the GMATClub Verbal Tests, I bought the OG Verbal Guide in order to practice verbal everyday also.

I scheduled the GMAT for the October 16th, but 9 days before that, I made a test and decided that I wasn't ready, so I rescheduled it to November 18th. This was the best decision I could've made. I used the extra month to finish all the GMAT Tests and "redoing" again some of them (I'll be more specific later).

At this point I was around 620-650, and my target score since the beginning had been 700 or higher. I thought that it was a difficult task actually, make such a boost, but NEVER gave up.

Conclusions
I'm going to tell you the two GOLDEN rules about GMAT preparation:
1) Analyze yourself and the test.
Unless you are a complete failure or a genius, or you aren't pursuing a high score, you must have WEAK areas, since the GMAT tests two radically different skills such as quant/verbal. You must track all the errors and tough/guess questions into an error log and after some practice, begin to extract some conclusions. I was always failing in geometry questions about triangles and parallelograms, so I was a couple of days just doing problems about that. After that I rocked all the problems and it become a strength rather than a weakness.

This must be your first step, but if you want to score high you need to take other things into account. For instance, you should work harder in the most frequent type of questions . I've seen like people is obsessed with combinatronics for a long time, but guess what: In my GMAT not a single question regarding combinations prompted up! Conversely, arithmetic, algebra, geometry and word problem questions were abundant. As you do Practice CATs, you must pay attention to these aspects.
Moreover, this test is full of tricks and patterns that you must recognize and crack in order to improve your timing, and with that your score. For example, DS questions are a completely different game than PS. The GMAT tries to trick your mind and if you don't pay attention it is probably that you'll end up failing easy questions. One example of these patterns that is frequent, is when (1) is NOT Sufficient because you need some other value or information, then (2) provides that specific data that you needed, and you foolishly run to choice C, without considering that (2) is sufficient by itself. I was caught that way like a hundred times.

Another example is your verbal strategy, specially for international students like me, you should invest your time this way:
SC > CR > RC. The reason is very simple; SC is primarily concerned with RULES and PATTERNS that you can identify and learn rapidly, CR consists of arguments and questions that follow PATTERNS which are not so obvious but you can learn to identify with practice, finally most of RC is about comprehension, and that my friend is not easy to tackle; it will depend highly in your language capacities and english command.
Another reason to do so is because this way you improve time management. When you achieve a 50" average for SC, and 1'20" for CR, you have a lot more time to spend in your RCs passages and that will improve your performance on RC. There were 2 passages in the exam which I read thoroughly 2 times.

2) Review
I must confess I was more interested in TESTING than REVIEWING. That strategy can work for a period of time, but when you are riding the 600s you need to dig a bit deeper if you are really aiming for a 700+. I can't recall whether it was here that I read it, but I remember a guy telling that he pushed his verbal score from 32 to 40 after reading all the SC explanations from the OG. In that point I became interested in reading the explanations and I can tell now that is critical for success.
One of the most useful things I did regarding SC was to repeat all the questions from OG and OG Verbal doing them BY TOPIC (as you can find in MGMAT SC). That way it is easier to identify the patterns that I was talking before. After that, I reviewed all the errors and highlighted questions (where I doubted or guessed). The results were obvious to me, from 32 to 42 in verbal (I scored 42 in my 2 GMAT Prep).

Exam day
I was worried the day before about sleeping. In past important dates, I remember I couldn't get a wink the whole night. After work, I visited the test center, then I went to swim in the afternoon and had a light supper. One thing I want to remark, is the power of the subconscious. I was more or less quite well all the day, thinking that I would crack the exam and all my problems would go away the next day, and also that I would recover my life again. However, when the night came, I started to feel terror in my entire body, like if it was telling me "Man, you can try it but can't lie yourself!". I went to bed early and ended sleeping like 6 hours.

In the morning, I took a light sandwich, some energy/fiber cookies and a bottle of Gatorade (following the recommendation of a GMAT Club member). I ate my sandwich and headed to the test center. I remember representing the GMAT in my head as some kind of beast and myself fighting with it, and repeating many times the phrase 'I'll beat it'. After all the show with the camera and the hand scanner I entered the room, we were in front of each other. I want to remark the importance of AWA as the first section. Since it is a relatively easy task, you slowly get relaxed and get used to the environment, without caring too much of the task itself (refer to the AWA Templates in this forum).

My AWA was average, I can't tell but definitely 4+. After that, the real game started. My pace in Quant was good, I ended with 3 minutes in the clock. I want to strongly remark that when you are in the test is not so easy to click 'Next'. It is difficult to assume that there's no review after, you start doubting even in the simplest things.
I want to explain an anecdote that happened after the first questions. As you know the difficulty of the questions is a clear indicator of your ongoing performance. I tackled a couple of hard but not hardest and I thought I was doing more or less good, when in the screen appeared the most ridiculous question I've ever seen. It was asking me the area of the circle I think, and the radius was given. It made me shudder of panic, I though 'It's not possible that I'm doing it so badly'. After that question, a hardest word problem appeared in the screen and at the same time I recalled the 'experimental questions' that are introduced during the test. I was most relieved (That couldn't be serious).
I don't know exactly how the algorithm works, but I think it was an experimental question cause it was like a 200-question.

In the CATs I had many times like 10 minutes in the clock in verbal. In the exam, however, I was too much time tackling a RC passage and I ended answering the last 10 questions in 14 minutes. I had scored 42 in verbal like three times so I guess this time issue made me lose points.

I was exhausted at the end, and when I started the survey and watched 1 of 8 (or so) in the screen I was like hitting the table and screaming 'Tell me the f*cking score bitch!!" after some hard drive sounds that indicated it was calculating my score, the magic 7 appeared on the screen, 700. In that moment, I felt success like I have never felt before. I did it, I cracked it, I killed the beast and it was never going to stand up again. And if it were, I knew I'd killed it again. I've been a bit 'dazed' since, it's been so much time and effort to prepare for this, that I felt a bit confused and physically exhausted, like the guys who climb the Everest must feel when they get down to earth.

CATs
MGMAT1: 600
MGMAT2: 600
MGMAT3: 610
*at this point I thought I was never reaching the 700
MGMAT4: 650 (hurrah!)
MGMAT5: 670
MGMAT6: 680 (some overlap)

GMAT Prep 1 710
*I think I was more excited to watch this result than that of the test (and not for the extra 10p)

GMAT Prep 2 680
*This couldn't have been more painful. 3 days to the exam and the 700 was not assured. I reviewed the 16 errors and solved 13 in less than 60 minutes with no other help. Something was happening, I was doing silly mistakes.

GMAT Prep 1 RT 740
*Wow, the overlap here was ridiculous, I couldn't believe it.

GMAT Prep 2 RT 740
*Confidence boosted. I feel I had the 7 here.

IMO The GMAT IS NOT GETTING HARDER!
There are people who say that the real thing is much difficult than GMAT Prep. In my case, I think that GMAT Prep was EXTREMELY ACCURATE regarding difficulty.

A word for GMAT Club Tests
This tests are fearsome! If you are around 600s and want to touch the 700+ don't think of it twice. GMAT Club Tests are difficult and tricky, and were critical to my success. I'd say GMATClub Tests are MORE difficult than the real thing, BUT have the SAME TYPE of questions. So IMO it's the best source of questions for serious takers. The only 'but' I can say is that explanations sometimes could be a bit more detailed. But when you see the $79 (in my case I even had free access), you just can't believe it. I understand that sometimes you feel dubious because on the Internet you can never tell, but trust me that GMAT Club Tests is the best you can do if you want to touch 700.

Final word
The GMAT has been the most challenging exam I have ever done. The 7 is really expensive, unless you have a good background or you are a genius, you are going to suffer for it. I have a little bittersweet taste, because I strongly feel that if I were to do it again I could score higher, but I'm fully satisfied and that won't happen. I want to say that for me the GMAT is a "funny" exam, I mean, it is very challenging and with the clock as the top enemy, it is very exciting from an intellectual point of view. However, arriving home from work and classes and having to do GMAT Club Tests was really painful.
Overall, it's been a wonderful experience in which I have gained self-confidence, improved my skills and now I will be able to apply for the schools I intended.

Good luck to everyone, and enjoy this.
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Re: 700 (47, 39) - GMAT Epilogue [#permalink] New post 20 Nov 2009, 12:57
Thanks for such an insightful and helpful post. Best of luck to you!
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Re: 700 (47, 39) - GMAT Epilogue [#permalink] New post 20 Nov 2009, 23:47
Great post. Good luck with your apps.

Cheers!
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Re: 700 (47, 39) - GMAT Epilogue [#permalink] New post 21 Nov 2009, 05:05
good post mate . I like the part where you mentioned that manhatan sc matches the questions with patterns in the official guide.

all the best with your apps
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Re: 700 (47, 39) - GMAT Epilogue [#permalink] New post 24 Jan 2010, 07:53
Gr8 post dude! very encouraging and motivating ( that's what I need along with Practice). Waiting for more apps from your side.
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Re: 700 (47, 39) - GMAT Epilogue [#permalink] New post 24 Jan 2010, 13:32
Congrats on the great score and thanks for sharing.
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Re: 700 (47, 39) - GMAT Epilogue [#permalink] New post 25 Jan 2010, 07:31
thank you for the great feedback!
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Re: 700 (47, 39) - GMAT Epilogue [#permalink] New post 28 Feb 2012, 03:07
wow that was an amazing debrief...right on point :)

PS- i love barca ;)
Re: 700 (47, 39) - GMAT Epilogue   [#permalink] 28 Feb 2012, 03:07
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