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700 Debrief

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Fuqua Thread Master
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Joined: 08 Feb 2014
Posts: 81
GMAT 1: 700 Q48 V37
GMAT 2: 720 Q47 V42
GPA: 3.5
WE: Other (Non-Profit and Government)
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Kudos [?]: 18 [0], given: 11

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700 Debrief [#permalink] New post 08 Feb 2014, 21:52
I've been a phantom on this website for quite some time, but continue to be impressed by how all the advice and help given to each other has formed such a strong community (hamm0 and domotron, your blogs are awesome; the entire Tuck thread is awesome too). Since I learned a lot from GC (and passed many hours at work reading the site :-D ), I decided to pay it forward and offer up my experience with the gmat so that others can learn from it.

Long story short, I decided to study for the test early November 2013. I would be having a lot of downtime at work coming up and this was a great opportunity to focus on the gmat. I went to the library, got OG12, and finished it in about 3 weeks. I worked on the questions for about 4 hours a night on the weekday and then 8-10 hours on the weekend. Basically I broke my plan down into two steps:

1. Go all in for these three weeks with OG12; if I get near 700 then get more prep materials to commit fully to the exam.
2. Go all in on the prep materials. If I get 700+ on GMATPrep, then take the exam. If not...then reassess b-school decision. (More on why I want to be part of the 700 club later)

Took the Economist test three days before Thanksgiving and got the range 700-720 (more on the Economist test later). This was a huge boost to my morale; I always performed well on standardized tests, but never exceptional (partly because I didn't have the resources, but also because I just didn't appreciate how important it is to study for these tests).

After Thanksgiving, I got Manhattan GMAT prep materials. I kept a journal of formulas or tricks as I went through the books so I could have an easy reference for review. My goal was to finish all 10 books (or however many there are) and take GMATPrep 1 before xmas. A few days before xmas, I took GMATPrep and got a 670 (Q45, V37). I was a mixture of upset and pissed with myself. I went through the exam and noticed that I made some silly mistakes, got complacent in verbal, got tired, etc. Decided to take the week of xmas off from all things gmat (but of course, not gmatclub :lol: ).

I had been looking at Magoosh for a while, because it was one of the first blogs that popped up when i googled mba or some other variation of gmat-mba-blog-how-to-get-a-900. Their layout looked intuitive and for $99 was CONSIDERABLY less expensive than the competitors. Magoosh’s gmat score calculator matrix is awesome (http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/how-to-cal ... at-scores/); not 100% accurate, but it will give you an excellent idea of what quant and verbal scores will give you a certain total score. I figured if I needed more studying after xmas I would try magoosh. Since I in fact did need more studying after xmas because I was unsatisfied with my 670 score I signed up with Magoosh (more on them later). I used Magoosh more for the question bank than the lessons, although I did learn a few tricks. After several weeks I finished the Magoosh question bank and decided to reset GMATPrep 1 and retake it so I could compare it to my first take. I would say 90% of the questions were different on verbal, and only 2-3 were the same as before in quant. 720 (Q46, V44). Now we're in business, baby. How did my verbal jump 7 points? Can't really put a finger on it, one day CR and SC just started clicking in my head. I've been reading the Economist since I was in the womb and analyze some dense literature (legislation, ugh) so I'm pretty good at RC. I'm also just naturally interested in a variety of subjects so I love the RC passages bc I actually learn while reading them. However, studying for SC will definitely make you better at CR. Getting good at SC requires you to focus on each part of the sentence so you can figure out what is modifying what, are number and person correct, what does this idiom require, etc. This transfers over to CR because the attention to detail and the breaking down of sentences into bits allows you to dissect CR passages and their arguments. I would be predicting answers before I saw them and I think that's a position you want to be in.

Bought OG13 along with the quant and verbal reviews ($30 package I think from amazon). Would do 10 of each, PS, DS, CR, SC, and RC Monday through Thursday, Friday off, Saturday morning test, Sunday review test, repeat. GMATPrep 2, Round I: 710 (Q47, V41). Verbal dipped, but I can live with it.

Week later took Economist again. Got 720-770 range. Niiice. Following week, Round 2 for GMATPrep 2, 730 (Q48, V42). I received 8 on every IR, but that doesn’t say much since GMATPrep repeats the same problem sets.

One point: it may be counterintuitive to keep taking the same tests again. However, because I was doing so many problem sets and spaced the tests out I rarely remembered any question so the test felt fresh to me. I think if I had been taking GMATPrep 1 one week, resetting, and then retaking the following week my score would have skyrocketed simply due to the fact that I would have remembered some answers. So I think you should space tests out.

Test Day
I had scoped out the building on two prior occasions so I knew exactly where I was going so that I wouldn’t lose any brain power on finding a new place. I exercise regularly and eat reasonably healthy so I drink a lot of water. This would later come to hurt me.

Did all the palm scanning and see a lot of people in the room and am a little anxious because I was hoping for solitude and quiet. However, I got these giant earmuffs and they blocked out everything. Even without the ear muffs though it was fairly quiet; most of the people there were taking the GRE.

AWA: Best prompt I’ve seen. Was able to point out 4-5 flaws and crunch our 4 solid paragraphs.

IR: Got my 8.

Quant: Yikes. For some reason whenever I think I did not do so hot in quant I get a good score and when I think I nailed it I get a 45 or 46. Last three questions were pretty easy. All had to do with primes and one was even testing the definition of a prime so I was spooked that I seriously dropped the ball if I was getting softball questions. Also, I didn’t get a single rate question! I am a rate-question-killer and was upset I didn’t get a single one since I regularly see 2-3 when I take practice tests.

V: Ugh. As I stated before, I drink a lot of water. I had to go to the bathroom at every break and near the end of IR and Quant I really had to go. Luckily though, it was near the end. For verbal though, it started around question 25. In addition, I was complacent and let the test come to me instead of attacking it. I lay back in my chair instead of grilling the screen as I normally do to get my 40s. It really felt like that first GMATPrep test when I got a 670. Around question 30 I realized what was happening. In addition to my bladder problem I was running a little low on time. However I think the time issue and my complacency were reflective of me just getting a bad batch of questions. I drew a bad hand. At least I know that I’m not a 37 and that I can improve. Once I saw my score though, I was disappointed. I wanted to be part of the 40-40 club and would have traded some Quant points for verbal even if I got the same score – just to make the numbers look less uneven.

Sitting on the train back home listening to London Grammar I realized that 700 is still an impressive score and I’m lucky to get that. It’s near the mean of one of my top choices (Darden) and although not that near to the mean of my other choices, it does pass the 700 barrier and should check the intellectual horsepower box for me. Also, I know that I can do better in verbal so I’m a bit optimistic. So, I’m planning on taking the test again in March. I think I will be more laid back this time around in terms of studying (I think domotron said something similar for his retake), partly because I have a decent score and can play like I have nothing to lose with the test, and partly because I’m a little burned out and don’t want to push myself too much.

Scores
11/20/2013 Economist 700-720
12/18/2013 GMATPrep 1 Round 1 670 (Q45, V37)
01/12/2014 GMATPrep 1 Round 2 720 (Q46, V44)
01/18/2014 GMATPrep 2 Round 1 710 (Q47, V41)
01/25/2014 Economist 720-770
02/01/2014 GMATPrep 2 Round 2 730 (Q48, V42)
02/08/2014 GMAT 700 (Q48, V37)

Study Materials
OG obviously. Manhattan. Magoosh. Manhattan materials are a necessity. They give you the strongest foundation and skills, especially in quant. Could not have done number properties without it. Manhattan materials. Get them. Now.

Magoosh. For $99 you cannot beat the price. Period. Question bank of about 900 in addition to great question support; they will respond to your emails within a day. The staff is awesome. Again, for $99 can’t be beat. What is also great about Magoosh is that they are real with you. They understand that there are other products out there that will complement or supplement Magoosh’s online resource. They actively recommend using Manhattan products and incorporate them into their study plans. I appreciate the fact that they know their limits and they know what works and are willing to recommend other products.

Scheduling
I didn’t want to schedule the test until I knew I was ready; it’s $250 so I wanted to make sure it would be worth it. After I took GMATPrep2 Round 1 and scored in the 700 range again I thought I was ready. I was hoping to get something in two weeks and went to book my time…but there was nothing until a month later. Eff me. So I just booked it for a month. BUT! everyday I would check the website a few times a day to see if a sooner spot opened up and within two days one did. So, if you don’t get the date you want keep checking back. People inevitably cancel for whatever reason and spots open up closer to test day I think bc ppl get the jitters or realize they aren’t prepared enough. Pure speculation on my part.

Also, one great thing about the GMAT is that you can schedule it throughout the day. I'm a better afternoon test taker, but I rescheduled my exam for the 10am slot bc that's all that was available. Better than the 8am for SATs, but I wonder if that impacted my score...

Economist Test
There isn’t a lot out there on the validity and accuracy of the Economist test. I think GC has a post on it, but here’s my two cents: the quant formula is off by a little. Economist will give you a range of scores. In my case, the last test I took I got 720-770. My quant range was 49-51 and verbal was 41-44. Verbal is on point and I think other posts recognize that. Other posts also recognize that quant is off. I would recommend that you take the lowest part of your quant range and then subtract it by 1 or 2 points. So my 49-51 is really more like a 47-48.

700 Club
I work in DC in national politics. I’m talking the sausage-making of democracy: back-room deals, crafting legislation that is good, but not great (bc great can’t get passed), and a lot of personal relationships. I wanted to be part of the 700 club so there couldn’t be a knock on my brainpower, that standardized aptitude wouldn’t be an issue for me since I’m from what I think is a non-traditional field. So can some of you enlighten me: is politics considered a non-traditional field and is my 700 good enough for me (assuming I don’t score higher) even with what I consider to be an unbalanced 48-37 split? Thanks.
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Joined: 20 Jan 2013
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Concentration: Finance, Entrepreneurship
GMAT Date: 03-14-2014
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Re: 700 Debrief [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2014, 01:05
Your hardwork has paid off. Congratulations! :)
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Fuqua Thread Master
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Joined: 08 Feb 2014
Posts: 81
GMAT 1: 700 Q48 V37
GMAT 2: 720 Q47 V42
GPA: 3.5
WE: Other (Non-Profit and Government)
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 18 [0], given: 11

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Re: 700 Debrief [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2014, 10:19
thx, anindame. :-D and so the long b-school process begins...
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Re: 700 Debrief [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2014, 12:47
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700 is a good score that you should be proud of.

I do want to provide one caveat however. It looks like you're not planning to attend b-school for a couple of years. In that case, just be aware that the percentiles go down every year. This is really not a big deal and I definitely don't think it means you need to retake the test, just know that the percentile ranking for your current score will be lower by the time you apply. For example, when I first started looking into the GMAT, a Q47 was near the 80th percentile. Now the 80th percentile is around Q49, or something like that.

Anyway, congrats on conquering this first step along your journey!
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Fuqua Thread Master
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Joined: 08 Feb 2014
Posts: 81
GMAT 1: 700 Q48 V37
GMAT 2: 720 Q47 V42
GPA: 3.5
WE: Other (Non-Profit and Government)
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Kudos [?]: 18 [0], given: 11

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Re: 700 Debrief [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2014, 13:10
Thx, DG. Means a lot coming from someone who as been as successful as you in the process. Congrats on all the acceptances! I hope I am in a similar position in a year :lol:

Could you shed some light as to where working in politics stands on the traditional/non-traditional barometer? Is more expected of me than other applicants from traditional industries on the gmat?
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Re: 700 Debrief [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2014, 14:34
politricks wrote:
Thx, DG. Means a lot coming from someone who as been as successful as you in the process. Congrats on all the acceptances! I hope I am in a similar position in a year :lol:

Could you shed some light as to where working in politics stands on the traditional/non-traditional barometer? Is more expected of me than other applicants from traditional industries on the gmat?


No, I don't think more is expected of you because you have a background in politics. Along the traditional/non-traditional barometer, you're probably in a similar space as me; I'm in the education sector. There are lots of other applicants coming from education and political backgrounds. We're less common than finance and consulting folks, but not completely non-traditional.

Keep in mind that this truly is a very holistic process. Admissions officers are telling the truth when they say that. People with amazing GMAT scores and GPAs are rejected everyday. You've accomplished a good first step, but make sure you're setting yourself up as a well-rounded candidate. Yes, you work in politics, but there is also a lot more to your story. All of those things are factored into crafting a strong b-school class.
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Fuqua Thread Master
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GMAT 1: 700 Q48 V37
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Re: 700 Debrief [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2014, 14:50
Awesome, thanks. I'll be applying in the fall and wanted to take the gmat in the first quarter of the year so I could focus on the rest of my application such as essays, recs, and message.
Fuqua Thread Master
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Joined: 08 Feb 2014
Posts: 81
GMAT 1: 700 Q48 V37
GMAT 2: 720 Q47 V42
GPA: 3.5
WE: Other (Non-Profit and Government)
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Kudos [?]: 18 [0], given: 11

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Re: 700 Debrief [#permalink] New post 14 Feb 2014, 07:23
Got my score report. Here's how things look now:

Q: 48
V: 37
Total: 700

IR: 8
AWA: 6

Does my AWA score boost my verbal creds or are they completely distinct?
Fuqua Thread Master
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Joined: 08 Feb 2014
Posts: 81
GMAT 1: 700 Q48 V37
GMAT 2: 720 Q47 V42
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WE: Other (Non-Profit and Government)
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Kudos [?]: 18 [0], given: 11

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Re: 700 Debrief (NOW 720!!) [#permalink] New post 15 Mar 2014, 20:20
Took my GMAT again this morning. I can thankfully say that it was probably the last standardized test I will ever have to take. 720 Q47, V42, IR 8. A bit more detail:

As I mentioned in my first post on this thread, I was planning on taking it easier in terms of studying for the retake. This is because I felt like I just didn't perform at my normal level on test day, I already had a reasonably satisfactory score, I had the basics covered and just needed to practice problems, and I just didn't want to study 3-4 hours a night anymore. Seriously though, I did not study anywhere near as hard as I did for the first take -- I dicked around for sure this time. Every day of the week I would do 20-30 questions: 10 from each section, but I did PS and SC every night. Sometimes if I felt like I wasn't putting enough effort into a section I would keep doing sets of 10 of that type until I felt satisfied. But again, I was relatively laid back for the retake. Also, in a perverse way I started to enjoy doing problem sets and practicing for the GMAT. I took GMAT Prep 1 again and miraculously scored a 760. I didn't put too much weight on it, rather I just felt confident knowing I could still swing the bat. I had one reading passage that I remembered, but everything else felt fresh.

I wasn't anxious or nervous leading up to test day. I just wanted to slay the beast and get on with my life. Luckily, I scheduled a 2pm exam time. I would always take my practice tests in the afternoon (because I would wake up around noon on saturdays) and felt that's when I performed the best. That is one thing I think is great about the GMAT: you can schedule it at almost any time. Unfortunately, I scheduled my first take at 10 am because there was nothing else available, but this time I tried to get a slot that I preferred. Learning from my mistake last time, I drank very little the day of the exam. Also, whereas last time I listened to London Grammar on the train to the test center and was in a more contemplative mood, this time I was blasting Dre's Chronic 2001. Still the D-R-E, motherf*****

Yeah, so clearly I just didn't give a damn this time. However, once I stepped into the test center and got my palm scanned, shit got real and I realized the severity of the situation. Sat down for AWA. Prompt was harder than the one I got last time, and even though I managed to crunch out the same length of response, I don't think it was as substantive as my first AWA when I got a 6; it will be interesting to see the scoring and how length is weighed vs. substance. Then IR. OMFG. I have no idea how I got an 8 again. I really thought I bombed it and was bracing for a 4 or 5. Devil's luck that I have always gotten an 8 on IR even during practice exams. One side note, I did the practice IR questions in GMAT Prep and only got 50% correct so I was a little spooked going into the exam anyways and my perceived performance didn't do me any favors.

Time for quant. I thought I was dropping the ball big time because of the number of questions I was making educated guesses on or just outright guessing, but the seesaw nature of the exam giving me extremely difficult questions followed by relatively simple ones such as a rate problem that just required a few unit manipulations kept throwing me off. But I just stuck with my strategy (if you can't figure out up from down on a question i.e. if you have no idea how to go about solving the question, within the first minute just guess and move on; some people say to just give yourself 30 seconds, but I think that is too soon to throw in the towel -- sometimes it takes a little longer to fully digest a question-- unless the question is written in cuneiform (and I had two probability questions like that so I just reread the questions to make sure I didn't know what they were asking and then clicked "C" and moved on)). Anyway, wasn't feeling too high when quant was over.

Took my break and walked in the hallway outside the test center. I told myself this is likely going to be the last standardized test I ever take so to go all out and leave nothing on the table. Went back to start verbal, kept my eyes glued to the screen attacking the questions with Chronic 2001 playing in my head: knew I was doing well when I got some tough SCs and a fill-in-the-blank for question 6 or 7. I was focused and doing well on time: 12 questions left with 30 minutes remaining. Decided to keep my foot on the pedal, but if there was a question that needed more deliberation I could afford to think it over. Must have spent at least 3 minutes each on the last 10, which were largely extremely short, but very tough SC. Thought I performed well based on the difficulty of the last 10 questions, but not sure if it would be a high 30 or somewhere in the 40s.

Clicked to see scores and was expecting to see a 6 as the first number. When I saw "72" I felt a sense of relief. Then I saw "8" and threw up a fist pump.

In total I would say I studied for about 3 months. Looking back at where I was and am now in terms of GMAT capability, the test is definitely one you can study for if you're willing to put in some time and serious effort. That means not being satisfied and having clear eyes and a full heart about what score you want and what you have to do to get it. It also means being honest with yourself. For most test takers, actually for most things in life, it comes down to how bad you want it... I'm happy I reached my goal of 720 as well as the 40-40 club. In truth, now the really tough part begins: thinking about essays, reworking the resume, preparing cheat sheets for recommenders, and gearing up for the application cycle.
Re: 700 Debrief (NOW 720!!)   [#permalink] 15 Mar 2014, 20:20
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