740....a humble debrief : Share GMAT Experience
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# 740....a humble debrief

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Joined: 29 Sep 2011
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26 Feb 2012, 10:18
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Date: Feb 20th, Score: 740 - 49Q, 41V, 96%. Debrief outline: Background, study plan, improvement from 640 to 740 in practice tests, D day glitch and finally the exam.

Background: Working professional, high demanding job hence could only dedicate weekends. Studied for 3 months w/ a arithmetic mean of 1 hr on weekdays and ~7 on weekends, with a total of ~180 hrs. I am a non-native English speaker but since I took GRE 5 yrs back, I very well knew my weakest point, i.e. verbal.

Preparation: Started w/ a diagnostic GMAT Prep 1 test and scored 640 so got lil disappointed as my target was 700+ to get into a top MBA finance program. Then started searching online forums including this, manhattan gmat, and few others. Got a fair idea from these forums and from asking friends and colleagues who had already attempted GMAT ( look how usage of from makes it parallel ). Finally settled for OG, and MGMAT but I already had Kaplan and Barron's.

SC Focus: Started w/ SC. According to me, MGMAT SC is the best source because they take you from basics, to medium level complexity points and finally the advanced topics along with a good practice questions. Non-native speakers please focus on Idioms and verb modifiers, I think it is relatively easy to identify parallel, noun modifiers, and subject-verb agreement errors, but (me specially) Idioms, verb modifier and tenses were weakest link of the chain. Also, recommend using egmat verbal practice although I did not purchase their course but I took some free strategy sessions.

CR I like the diagramming strategy of MGMAT CR but soon realized that T diagram is something I cannot achieve w/ 1:30 sec time frame however that doesn't mean it is not helpful but its just that I was not comfortable.

RC, I bought a kindle and started reading lot of good fictional and research books, as well as news articles from WSJ, NY Time and FT. I should say my reading and comprehending speed increased noticeably in 2 months, and I specially recommend WSJ and FT for those who wish to do MBA in Finance ( related area ) because you kill 2 birds at same time by learning how a good grammatically correct article is presented, and by enhancing your finance knowledge base.

Quant: Read and practice all MGMAT quant books and all the OG 12 and OG 11 quant questions, frankly quant on the exam was pretty straight forward with 1 probability and 1 geometry problem at 700+ level.

Practice Test:
GMAT Prep 1: 640
Study for 1 month, cover MGMAT SC, brush up Quant, OG Quant and Verbal practice
MGMAT 1: 600
Princeton 1: 680
Kaplan: 580
Wow what an inconsistency, so focused more on Verbal specially SC and CR as well finished all MGMAT quant books once and at same time kept solving OG questions.
MGMAT 2: 640
MGMAT 3: 680
MGMAT 4: 660 ( aha what a relief )
Princeton 2: 710 ( wow, I think I can achieve it, started analyzing what went wrong knowing that Princeton test are moderately difficult, downloaded GMAT CLUB iphone app to practice quant while commuting to work. It helps a lot when you solve quant question without a single stroke or pen or pencil, you focus more on strategy than #s or PoE )
MGMAT 5: 700
Kaplan Online Free Practice Test: 740
GMAT Prep 1: 720 ( again )
MGMAT 6: 740
GMAT Prep 2: 720

D-Day: Took my state issued driving license to the test, proctor handed over rules book with a fine print stating "if you are not taking exam in the country of your citizenship you need a passport" and hell broke loose, it was only 30 mins to exam so called a friend who was kind enough to bring passport from home and I requested extra time. Proctor was kind enough to allow me start exam 30 mins later than scheduled time. Nervous and sweating started my AWA 1, since I had decent practice of writing essay during undergrad and masters I took some time to relax and finished it in time, AWA 2 was easy but I had to agree w/ the issue so little tough to justify the agreement.

Break: Used 5 mins out of 8 mins but went to loo, ate half a granula bar and jumped for 30 sec to increase blood flow.

Quant: Took ~4 mins on the first question but then paced along well on the rest, difficulty level was not high and hence I started thinking may be I am not doing well, but then came the 9th ques on Probability, which confirmed that I was doing fine. Co-ordinate geometry question was tricky but easy to judge and overlapping sets was straight forward too. DS: 4 questions on modulus and thanks to MGMAT tricks which helped to resolve them quickly, as well 2 prime based questions and if I remember 1 evenly spaced set based.

Break: Loo, other half of granula bar, and a good job on the spot, trust me it really helps, on the way back to room had a lil joke w/ proctor about nice she is so a good 10 sec laugh

Verbal: SC: Difficulty level was higher than any practice tests but all question types were familiar and I used 2-3 split on most of them. CR: Long but not confusing, 1 bold face question but again thanks to MGMAT CR strategy to identify conclusion first and then look at options specially on bold face question. RC: 2 long passage and 2 short, short one were tough to understand but the long ones just took more time to read but easy to solve.

Conclusion: Create a study plan say for 30 days or 60 days, focus on your weakness and be dedicated towards your goal. I will upload flash card I prepared and some more tips I used during my practice later.

PS: Please ignore if any grammatical, meaning or concision errors above , Thanks a lot to all those who posts their exp, answer SC ques from GMAT Prep specially since prep doesn't give explanation, and to all moderators and founders of this FORUM which really helped me through the journey.
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26 Feb 2012, 18:22
Well done and a hearty congratulations on an outstanding score . You certainly put in a lot of work, judging by the number of practice CATs that you took, and your high score seems very well deserved.
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26 Feb 2012, 21:16
Good luck for your application part.
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26 Feb 2012, 23:06
Good debrief!! Really inspiring to see how good you managed to get over the initial 30 mins delay and did not let it affect your composure. All the best for apps.

Ameya
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26 Feb 2012, 23:45
you totally deserved it!!!!! congrats!!! g'luck with the apps
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27 Feb 2012, 00:29
great score...congratulations for the same...
could you please let us know if you encountered any idiom based question in SC and also if there were more meaning based questions??
congrats once again.
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27 Feb 2012, 17:30
Thank you everyone for the wishes.

sandeeepsharma: I'll upload the flash card soon, just in process of formalizing it as it was in my own language w/ all my jargons - Bonus ques - what is wrong in my statement above ?

Code:
could you please let us know if you encountered any idiom based question in SC and also if there were more meaning based questions??

I encountered 2 idiom based but they were mixed w/ other error types, one w/ modifier and other w/ subject-verb, but I should say that all SC I came across were really long. I have hardly seen so many long SC during my practice but the good thing it is easier to solve longer one because errors are more prominent if you can identify the filler words. Frankly, I cannot distinguish between meaning and non-meaning but I think as the basic rule goes, all SC should abide by GMC ( general motor corp, my way of remembering it ) rule - Grammar, Meaning and Concision.

I recommend 2-3 split which helped me in almost all SC questions, but I'll provide few more suggestions when I upload flash cards.
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27 Feb 2012, 21:35
Very nice debrief and congrats on your excellent score! +1 kudos from me...
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27 Feb 2012, 23:50
Thanks for the debrief. Inspirational it is for sure!
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01 Mar 2012, 08:36
Fun debrief! And congratulations on your score!
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01 Mar 2012, 12:12
Very inspiring debrief!
I have my exam scheduled on Apr 14. My scoreline right now reads pretty much same as yours when you took your MGMAT 2/3 test (around 650 range). I am targeting 710+. I bought the gmat club tests recently, and I am finding them very very helpful for Quant. But not as much for verbal.

Books I am looking at are: MGMAT strategy guides, Kaplan Premier, OGs (all 3), and some flashcards (from gc), 1000 actual GMAT SC questions (from gc) and a set of hard questions on probability (again from gc).

In verbal section, I am finding CR and RC sections difficult (CR, where I am getting more wrong, and RC where I end up spending lot of time). These two sections are pulling my verbal score down to 33-35. SC I am not that bad.
I've done more than twice all the CR questions from OG, Kaplan and other materials mentioned above and mostly get 80%+ of the questions right. But this doesn't reflect in my test score (where CR result is in the range of 50% - 70%). For RCs I think I need to practice more, I hope that helps.

Please share any thoughts on what I could do better to get to my target score.

Thanks and have a great day!
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03 Mar 2012, 16:36
siddheart22: Let me start with my thoughts on RC, however don't take my word as I have scored only 41 so I am pretty sure there are many others on this forum have better idea about RC.

As I mentioned first I focused on reading speed and that when I started reading news articles and novels to increase my word per min speed and at the same time comprehend the passage or the topic I was reading. MGMAT RC gives you some basic idea on how to approach long and short passages and take notes as you go through the paragraph's. I recommend focus more on the first paragraph of the RC which really in most gives you the gist's of what the author is talking about and what side he or she favors or opposes.

What kind of RC passage are you finding hard ? Long or Short, Science or Social, One with more jargon's or ones with complex sentence structure. First identify that means your weakness and then improve it.

CR - In addition to MGMAT CR guide, I also read through some of the topics from Powerscore CR Bible, which is really good in terms of explaining, how to identify the conclusion, premise and assumption. Bold statement was my weakness when I started but then I realized that it is very much like any other CR question where you have to identify PAC ( Premise, Assumption and Conclusion ) and then read the answer choices. Short CR are pretty manageable but on the long ones I used PAC identification and then POE. Once you eliminate 2 or 3 choices you normally know what is the correct answer but yeah on 700+ questions remaining 2 choices will be very very close.

I suggests focus on the words in the choices, normally I have observed choices with extreme words such as always, entirely, all, never, everyone, are not correct because if they tend to take the argument in one directions. Note that GMAT CR are talking about rationale and practical topics in your day to day life and as you know our assumptions or our conclusions are always in the middle or the average never to one extreme.

Code:
I've done more than twice all the CR questions from OG, Kaplan and other materials mentioned above and mostly get 80%+ of the questions right. But this doesn't reflect in my test score (where CR result is in the range of 50% - 70%). For RCs I think I need to practice more,
Let me ask have you analyzed how many in the first 10 or 15 on the full length tests are correct ? Never go by the % correct on OG or such tests as GMAT is really adaptive so % of correctness matter less than how your graph progresses from Ques 1 to Ques 41. Are you timing your OG practice questions ? I have observed that in any full length test whether MGMAT test, Princeton, GMAT Prep, Kaplan - First 15 question really matters but again that's my observation don't generalize it.

Hope this helps, let me know if I can be of further help.
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06 Mar 2012, 13:11
Excellent debrief and an outstading score! Thanks for sharing you useful experience.
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08 Apr 2012, 16:20
Re: 740....a humble debrief   [#permalink] 08 Apr 2012, 16:20
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