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740 (46/46)-Humanities major. Inspiration here!

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740 (46/46)-Humanities major. Inspiration here! [#permalink] New post 19 Nov 2008, 19:41
So here goes! I'm trying to make this short as possible.

Started with a Princeton classroom course, Diagnostic 620. Studied every night, kept up with the syllabus. Test 2 620. Backed up, reviewed notes, went to Math Boot Camp. Test 3 490. More study. Test 4 600. Studied more, Test 5 620. Ugh!

As for the Princeton course: (a) Do not call and ask advice from customer service representatives, about anything. I found they typically were dismissive and discouraging. (b) Listen to your teacher, who should have your best interest in mind. However, do not listen to the teacher if he/she tells you to take the test within a month or whatever after the class ends. Test Prep courses give you math basics, and I truly believe the rumor that they work for people aiming for 500-600 scores, but not higher. However, if you are aiming for a 500-600 score, I do not think that means you should follow the test prep companies like they're the law. Use the test prep companies to get up to 500-600, then judge for yourself how much more studying you have in you. If you know your work ethic can handle a few more months of self-study, then do it! Practice is key (especially for Quant, for me).

After the Princeton course, I bought Manhattan GMAT books and continued working through the OG. From Manhattan, I ended up only really using the verbal note-taking strategies, which did bring my score up. For Quant, I stayed primarily with the OG and additional Quant OG, except for some browsing in MGMAT books. MGMAT tests were great. I scored in the mid-high 600s on all of them. Also during this time I took the Kaplan diagnostic and scored 650.

Took both GMAT Prep tests--Test 1 720. Test 2 710.

Then I made my first attempt at the real thing--650! Shoot. I'd had a terrible week, was half sick, had rescheduled to a town an hour away and stayed in a hotel the night before, only slept 5 hours. Anyway, I didn't give up, and I don't recommend giving up to anyone who has time for a second test before second round. My nerves were soooo much better the second time, there's no way I would have scored lower (FYI average score change for second timers is an increase of 30 points). Anyway, essays came through as a 6.

Then I started with a fresh copy of the OG. I ignored the additional quant OG at this point because the GMATPrep practice tests use some problems from that book, which could skew the final score. Anyway, I just kept working problems, leaving checkmarks on those I missed and circles on those that took too long, and also reading the solutions. After making it through all Quant problems in the book, I reworked the problems I missed, as well as the problems I took too long to solve. Then I went through the missed/too long problems again. During this time, I took a few more Kaplan tests. Scored 550 on all of them.

***Important! Also during this time, I did 5-10 of the GMAT Club Math Challenges/Tests. They are harder than the real thing, which is the point. Seriously. It made the test so much easier for me. Thanks GMAT Club! (I swear this is not a paid endorsement.) GMAT Club Math tests are well worth the money. I recommend working all of them and wish I'd given them more time.

Tried a third take at GMATPrep and scored 730.

Then sat for the real test again and viola! 740. Still waiting for my essay score.

So...

#1. Don't give up, and trust yourself more than anyone else.
#2. Quant is about practice. Practice practice practice.
#3. I don't recommend involved forms of tracking the questions you missed. I started a spreadsheet, then found it was a waste of time in comparison to working and re-working problems. That said, I didn't get a supergenius math score (46 raw/77th percentile), so maybe the supergeniuses with spreadsheets know something I don't (clearly, they do). Even so, unless you're already a math expert, the checkmark seems like enough to get up to speed, especially since what you need most is practice. I don't think time spent formatting a spreadsheet is time spent wisely.
#4. Trust your strength, focus on your weakness. I barely studied for Verbal between my first and second attempt (first attempt 92nd percentile, second attempt 99th percentile). I have a master's in lit and have worked as an editor for years.
#5. Take vitamins, do yoga, exercise, trying breathing and meditation. Drink 3-4 ounces of red wine the night before. Especially do these things if you are an anxious person or have a history of nerves. Listen to classical music, especially on the way to the test. I like Beethoven's 6th.
#6. Know that ultimately it doesn't matter that much. If you bomb, worst case scenario, down to the wire, give yourself another year and try again.
#7. Believing you can raise your score is 75% of the work. Keep believing it. No matter how bad your practice tests get. Just keep practicing and studying.

So, that said, here's a disclaimer--I worked 50-60 hour weeks for the 3 years preceding my GMAT prep, so I'm used to coming home from work and continuing to work. This work ethic is the #1 factor in my final score. Also, and I hesitate to go here, I always scored well on state-wide standardized tests as a kid and I was in the gifted program from a young age. I studied lit so my college-level standardized test scores dropped a bit until this GMAT score.

I'm saying this because I don't want to mislead people==I completely believe that everyone can raise their scores dramatically, with enough effort, patience, and positive thinking. However, if you've always had a hard time with standardized tests, then another 6 months of study when you've already put in 6 may not make a difference. What does make a difference is knowing your confidence level, knowing how much studying you need to do your best, and then putting in the work. If you get down on yourself because of a bad practice test, set yourself a time limit before you buck up and move on (maybe an hour? 2 hours?). Anyway, I've been a good-for-nothing at times and a crazy hard worker at times, so because of my own vicissitudes I have complete faith in the flexibility and potential of every human mind. What will get you where you want to be is good health--physical and mental, which means keeping a positive attitude, believing you can do it, and giving yourself room to make mistakes.

Good luck everyone!!!

--CrystalB
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Re: 740 (46/46)-Humanities major. Inspiration here! [#permalink] New post 20 Nov 2008, 00:13
excellent write up. Congratz on ur score. Indeed super score.
all the best with ur application.
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Re: 740 (46/46)-Humanities major. Inspiration here! [#permalink] New post 20 Nov 2008, 07:28
Excellent score and excellent write up. Can you write the Gmat challenges scores you used to get?

I haven't done any of the OG math yet but I bought the challenges and took 5 tests and I am hanging in between 25 and 26 corrects out of 37. I am worried this may be real bad score. And between the two, I feel quant is my strong point so I am kind of feeling down after seeing these scores in quant in challenges.

Verbal, I think I have to go really long way. right now I just bought MGMAT SC guide and reading it. Planning to buy CR bible also.

I know you didn't put much effort in verbal but still I can take any advice that you can offer to me.

all the best with ur application.
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Re: 740 (46/46)-Humanities major. Inspiration here! [#permalink] New post 20 Nov 2008, 17:38
Hi ugimba,

My GMAT Challenges were all around 25 out of 37 (one was 20 out of 37), so don't worry! My percentages on the GMAT Challenges fell between the mid-20th percentile to the 77th percentile, which is what I scored on my second attempt at the real thing. You're better off in Quant than you think--the Challenges are harder than the real test, and I think they teach you things the test prep companies don't. I wonder if the test prep companies are somewhat limited in what they can teach because they make deals with GMAC to use prior test questions, etc.

I suggest buying all of the MGMAT Verbal books. I can't give the best advice for Verbal because I started out strong, but I'm sure you could find another post on the forum with better Verbal advice. I don't know what the CR Bible is and unless it's MGMAT I didn't use it.

I've heard SC is quite teachable. For the other verbal question types, the best advice I heard was that you should, usually, choose the answer that comes closest to a paraphrase of something in the source (RC passage/CR paragraph). This is a little harder to do with CR, but for the most part for CR that rule should at least help you avoid answer choices that go off the topic.
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Re: 740 (46/46)-Humanities major. Inspiration here! [#permalink] New post 20 Nov 2008, 17:41
PS maybe the most helpful thing with Quant for me was to, during the test, remind myself that the math isn't that hard--you just need to find the trick. Whenever I started to feel like I'd gone past my ability, I said that to myself, and it calmed me down enough to find some extra answers.
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Re: 740 (46/46)-Humanities major. Inspiration here! [#permalink] New post 11 Nov 2011, 00:28
It's right position, as a lot depends on your mood and the ability to concentrate.. positive mood will bring positive results :-D
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Re: 740 (46/46)-Humanities major. Inspiration here! [#permalink] New post 11 Nov 2011, 01:48
Excellent write up. I've heard a lot of stories about GMAT club tests being harder than the real thing as well so it makes the actual thing easier. It must have frustrated you for the initial first 5 tests where you fluctuated around so much.
EDIT: Just read what you got for the GMAT club tests
Congratulations on your score :)
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Re: 740 (46/46)-Humanities major. Inspiration here! [#permalink] New post 11 Nov 2011, 08:04
congrats
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Re: 740 (46/46)-Humanities major. Inspiration here! [#permalink] New post 11 Nov 2011, 13:59
Great job! Congratulations
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Re: 740 (46/46)-Humanities major. Inspiration here! [#permalink] New post 11 Nov 2011, 17:00
great score. A 46 on Verbal is amazing. Can you share you specific study strategies for Verbal.

Also, all the best for your applications!
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Re: 740 (46/46)-Humanities major. Inspiration here! [#permalink] New post 15 Nov 2011, 17:09
congratulations!! amazing score
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Re: 740 (46/46)-Humanities major. Inspiration here! [#permalink] New post 16 Nov 2011, 22:19
WOW....thats an awe-inspiring journey...and 46 in verbal.....thts ahmazing!!!Congrats! I will be using some tips from ur debrief for sure.....thanks!
Re: 740 (46/46)-Humanities major. Inspiration here!   [#permalink] 16 Nov 2011, 22:19
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