720. Q49 V40.
I am based in Paris right now so my testing center may not be like others around the world. Paris apartments have double glass windows to lock out as much noise as possible and during my test I was really glad about that. There was virtually no noise aside from the keyboard noises from other test takers.
Going into the AWA, which I only studied for the last two nights before my exam, I was a little bit nervous. The argument question read like a critical reasoning question and I got off on the wrong foot. Only after ten minutes into it did I realize I was on the wrong path. All in all, the AWA portion went fine after I started to relax.
After the AWA, I took a 5 minute break (10 minutes max allowed) and did some pushups and jumping jacks. Yes, I was in the testing center doing jumping jacks. Each break, I did some exercise activity, drank some water, and used the restroom. It really did help.
Next up came the Q section. I started off slow on purpose because I realized from the last few CATs that when I put too much pressure on myself to answer quickly, I made too many careless mistakes and gave up too easily on questions that I should not have missed. Also, three nights before, I did a set of the hardest Q in the OG Q book and I tried to stay absolutely as relaxed as possible and it worked out great. The problem was that whenever I felt too much time pressure I would skip the "thinking" portion of the Q question (where I would normally look at the question and absorb the info and make a decision on how I would attack the problem) and immediately go into "grunt work" mode (where I would just choose the first thing that came to mind). Spending the extra time up front to "think" about the problem (even with the time pressure mounting) helped me stay calm and confident about each question.
Now, for the actual material, I did not see anything even remotely as difficult as the hardest MGMAT CAT questions. The questions I saw were very much in line with the OG11
Q questions in the last 50 problems or so and at the end of the OG Q. In fact, there were several questions that were exactly the same as the OG11
hard questions except that the numbers were changed. Because of that I actually thought I was doing terribly. I was under the impression that all these questions were too easy and could not be the upper bin questions. But I focused and concentrated on each question carefully even though I knew I would have to guess on the last 4-7 questions. There was no way I could catch up enough to complete the entire Q portion so I stuck with what I was doing and worked each question out methodically. As far as how many I had to guess, there were many. On almost every PS problem, I was confident on my response, but on the DS, I wasn't so sure. Most DS questions I answered with about 60-70% confidence with some in the 80% range, but for the most part I felt like most DS questions were just guesses. I answer many with E so I thought that was a bad sign. What really scared me was that at the very end of the exam, where I was guessing randomly, I saw one geometry PS problem that I solved in my head in 10 seconds - I thought for sure I must have been in the 30's range of Q. I had to randomly guess on the last 6 or 7 questions. In addition, I left the very last problem completely blank - the Q portion ended just as I was about to select next and the thought of an unanswered question hung over me.
During the second break, I was very seriously demoralized. The Q section just did not seem right. The questions were just seemed too easy and I left one completely blank. I went into the verbal thinking that I scored no higher than 39 on Q so even if I scored 45 on V I would not break 700. As a result, I did not go into verbal with much pressure hanging on my shoulders. On one hand, this could be considered good because stress, anxiety and pressure are often what makes me do poorly; on the other hand, not caring anymore is not good either. But I went on, trying my best to stay focused. I thought, hey if I did that bad in Q, the least I can do is get a 45 on V and boost my score a little. The questions were hard across the board. SC was hard. CR was hard and RC was hard. It did not feel like the verbal from my last GMATPrep at all. On several CR questions I was unsure and guessed whereas I am normally confident in CR. On SC, there were just a few very difficult ones, but I definitely noticed where the errors were and in one case I thought to myself, "oh man the test writers are tricky - that one could have gotten me." On RC, I quickly saw some very hard passages. I think I spent at least 5-7 minutes reading the scientific passage, but I stuck with it knowing that if I answered the questions on that passage correctly it would definitey boost my score. The reason why I focus on RC and am willing to give up minutes on it is because if I cannot understand the passage I will very likely miss every single question asked on that passage and that is not acceptable (imagine missing 4-5 questions in a row). Near the end, I saw at least 1 CR of almost every type including a boldfaced question, a "which question will help evaluate..." question, and a "which of the following completes the passage below" question. I guessed on the last 3 verbal questions.
When my score popped up, I was SHOCKED. ABSOLUTELY SHOCKED. Not only did I NOT do terrible in the Q, I actually scored higher in Q than any other practice CAT. I was disappointed in my 40 on V, but I didn't care because I scored 720, higher than any practice CAT.
Here is a complete list of all practice CATs I've taken:
PR GMAT 1 550 Q32, V34
PowerPrep1 560 Q35, V31
GMATPrep1 650 Q45, V34
PR GMAT 2 570 Q35, V33
PowerPrep 2 540 Q39, V25
Paper test 14 680 Q42, V42
Paper test 58 670 Q42, V40
PR GMAT 3 660 Q42, V40
MGMAT 1 650 Q40, V38
MGMAT 2 700 Q42, V42
MGMAT 3 690 Q45, V39
GMATPrep 2 710 Q42, V45
GMAT 720 Q49, V40
Note that I did a lot of practice CATs because timing was a serious, serious challenge for me. I do not believe everyone needs to do as many practice CATs as I did, particularly those that do not have timing issues. Even after all those CATs I still did not complete the real GMAT on time. PR GMAT 3 was the only CAT where I finished both sections completely without having to resort to guessing.