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720 and happy !

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Intern
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Joined: 30 Aug 2012
Posts: 4
Location: Canada
GMAT 1: 720 Q48 V41
GPA: 4
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Kudos [?]: 8 [2] , given: 0

720 and happy ! [#permalink] New post 12 Dec 2012, 11:18
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Hello all !

First, you will notice that this is my first post. I've been using this forum regularly since last summer, but I never posted anything. There were times when I wanted to ask questions, but I never dared to do it.

I must admit I often felt intimidated. For me, 720 is an amazing score that I never thought I could get. For others, it's a really bad score. I often felt discouraged reading other people complaining about their 700-710 score. I always had good grades in school without working so much, so it was hard for me to accept that for the GMAT, I wouldn't get on top that easily.

BACKGROUND
My college degree was in science, so I did some math back then. I started a B.A in biochemistry but didn't like lab work, so I switched to humanities. I finished university in 2005, so it's been a while. I'm 31 years old. Recently, I've been working in the travel industry. My first language is French.

PREPARATION
I started preparing for the GMAT in last August. At first, I studied in a lazy way. I can't concentrate for a long time, so I figured I should start early and do it little by little. I took a first GMAT Prep test to see how I was doing. I scored 670. Not bad, I thought. Now it can only get better. I wasn't worried.

But... the problem is when I did this exam, I took many breaks... I overestimated my capacity to concentrate for a long time. In early November I took the Kaplan free test. I did it properly this time, and I scored 610. I was devastated ! That's when I woke up and started preparing for real. My GMAT was scheduled for December 6th : I had one month left to level up !

I started studying like crazy... well, that was crazy for me, because as I said, I can't study for many hours. After one hour I have to stop and do something else, because I cannot concentrate anymore. And even so, I can't do more than 5 hours a day. I had 2 weeks before starting to work full time so I had plenty of time during the day. I practiced questions for all sections and I studied math theory because I realized I forgot a lot since college. After a week, I did the MGMAT free test and scored 650 (Q43, V36). I was happy : I felt I was on the right track.

Second intensive week, then another free test, this time Veritas. I scored 710. I was overjoyed ! At that point I didn't really believe I could score 700 at the real test. But still, I was really happy.

Then I started working full-time, so practice became more difficult. It was hard to concentrate after a day of work. Still, I was able to do 2 to 3 hours a day. I did many GMAT Club tests, thanks to the 1 000 000 posts promotion. For some reason I felt that math was my weakness, so I really focused on the quantitative section. I used the GMAT Club's Math Book and found it very useful. I felt I was still lacking in basic math concepts so I decided to purchase Manhattan GMAT's Foundations of GMAT Math. It was a bit too late, so I'm not sure if it was really useful, but reading it and making sure I understood the basics made me more confident.

On the last weekend before my test, I took the second GMAT Prep test. I scored 690 (Q44, V40). I was a little bit disappointed as I was secretly hoping for 700, but it was ok. I was confident I could score between 670 and 690 at the real test, so that was my realistic goal.
Then I realized that there was one more free test I didn't do, the Princeton one. So I decided to do it. Bad idea : I scored 580 (Q41, V29). I couldn't believe it ! This made me lose all my confidence. Now I was going to the test thinking that it was possible I could score below 600, something I never thought before. I became more stressed and anxious.

At this point, I realized that I was actually weaker in the verbal section than in the quantitative section. Quantitative is hard for me because there are still some questions types that give me a hard time, like mixture problems and combinations. But I spent too much time on difficult questions that made me think I was really poor in the quantitative section, when actually, I wasn't doing so bad.

I used some information I found on the forum to try to improve my verbal score. RC was the hardest for me. I improved when I started to take notes, because while taking them, I was organizing the information and understanding it better. I didn't really use the notes afterwards. It was helpful while I was writing them. I read Gin's RC technique and found it quite useful.

Still, I knew that the main reason that my verbal score was low was simply because it's the last section. Again, my concentration problem. After more than 2 hours, it becomes really hard for me to focus.

The night before the exam I didn't do anything. I watched a TV show I like in order to relax, and went to bed early.

THE REAL TEST
And then December 6th came. I was so stressed I thought I would be sick. When I sat in front of the computer, I seriously thought I would be unable to get a hold of myself. I couldn't think clearly. It is such a good thing that the exam starts with AWA ! As I was writing my essay I calmed down.

In practice tests, I always struggled with integrated reasoning. I always take too much time and end up guessing. But still, in both GMAT prep tests I got 8, so I wasn't too much worried.

Then I took the much needed 8 minutes break, and attacked the quantitative section. As soon as I sat I wrote my timing stategy on my pad : Q10 : 55 min left; Q20 : 35 min left; Q30 : 10 min left. I really have to keep checking on this, because I'm always too slow in this section. Still, at some point I got behind schedule and started panicking. I guessed a couple of questions and was able to finish on time. At this point I had no idea how I did, but since I got some probability and combinatorics questions, I felt that might be a good thing. (I didn't get any of these in the GMAT Prep tests)

Another much needed break, then the last part. In every practice test I always finished the verbal section way to fast, with between 5 and 15 minutes left. Therefore, I decided to slow down. But guess what, I slowed down too much ! I never checked my time in the verbal section before. But then at some point I realized I was late, and got this awful, cold feeling and started panicking again for a few seconds.

I think what happened is that at some point, I got that really nasty RC passage. It was really long and really awful, talking about the origin of vertebrates, was it fresh water or sea water, and blah blah blah. I was taking notes furiously and ended up completely lost as there was way too much information, and I lost a lot of time there.

Still, I was able to calm down, speed up and finish on time. During the last questions, I felt more and more nervous at the thought of learning my score. I was about to have a heart attack when I finally clicked for the last time. And then... 720 (Q48, V41). Oh, the happiness !

So why did I scored higher than all the practice tests I did ? I'm not too sure, but I think everytime I did a practice test, unconsciously, I didn't give my best. Thinking about it, when I was in school, I didn't study that much, but I always scored high in exams. I think I simply don't give my best unless it's the real thing. That sounds pretty stupid, but that's the only explanation I can find.

Sorry for the long post, I hope it can be encouraging for people like me who do not have any business or finance background !
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Intern
Intern
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Joined: 15 Aug 2012
Posts: 13
Location: United States
Concentration: Finance, Economics
Schools: HBS '15 (D)
GMAT 1: 720 Q49 V40
GPA: 3.4
WE: Account Management (Mutual Funds and Brokerage)
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 5 [0], given: 3

Re: 720 and happy ! [#permalink] New post 12 Dec 2012, 11:25
Great work! I also find it difficult to completely focus on the practice exams. Scoring higher on the real thing simply means that you're a game-time performer. Congrats on the great score.
Manager
Manager
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Joined: 13 Feb 2012
Posts: 147
Location: Italy
Concentration: General Management, Entrepreneurship
GMAT 1: 560 Q36 V34
GPA: 3.1
WE: Sales (Transportation)
Followers: 4

Kudos [?]: 1 [0], given: 85

Re: 720 and happy ! [#permalink] New post 13 Dec 2012, 11:37
You definitely perform well under stress and that is great for many occasions in life.

Well done, man. Congrats!
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Andy

Intern
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Joined: 30 Aug 2012
Posts: 4
Location: Canada
GMAT 1: 720 Q48 V41
GPA: 4
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Kudos [?]: 8 [0], given: 0

Re: 720 and happy ! [#permalink] New post 14 Dec 2012, 08:48
Thank you ! I wish I could get rid of the stress, though. Oh well ! :)
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Re: 720 and happy ! [#permalink] New post 14 Dec 2012, 21:55
Hey,great score!Congrats! Can u tell me what kind of questions u encountered on quant and which topcs' questions were the trickiest/time consuming?

Thanks,
Shreeraj
1 KUDOS received
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Joined: 30 Aug 2012
Posts: 4
Location: Canada
GMAT 1: 720 Q48 V41
GPA: 4
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Kudos [?]: 8 [1] , given: 0

Re: 720 and happy ! [#permalink] New post 15 Dec 2012, 08:32
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shreerajp99 wrote:
Hey,great score!Congrats! Can u tell me what kind of questions u encountered on quant and which topcs' questions were the trickiest/time consuming?

Thanks,
Shreeraj


Thank you !

Unfortunately, since it's been more than a week, I must admit that I don't remember precisely what kind of questions I got on quant... I don't remember getting really tough questions that I had no idea how to solve. I did get some question types that I saw before and that I know I wouldn't be able to solve quickly enough so I just guessed.

I'm still weak in probability, combinatorics, mixture problems and some work/rate problems. Probability and combinatorics are not so time consuming, as I usually know as soon as I start if I'll be able to solve the question or not. I either solve it quickly or guess. But I didn't work too much on those since as I mentioned, I didn't really get them in any practice tests. As for mixture and work/rate problems, I understand the logic but somehow I always end up spending way too much time calculating and I sometimes get lost in the process.

The time issue really depends on your personal weaknesses. I always spend way too much time calculating : multiplication, addition... I have to write everything. It's really time-consuming, especially when you're dealing with big numbers.
Re: 720 and happy !   [#permalink] 15 Dec 2012, 08:32
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