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740 - If I can do it, anyone can (My tips)

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740 - If I can do it, anyone can (My tips) [#permalink] New post 30 Oct 2012, 14:45
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I gave the GMAT last week and am thrilled to report that I scored 740 (Q48, V42). I am your average Joe (Jolie) and I believe that if I can score 700+ then most people can. Below is what I learned from the GMAT and I hope you benefit from it.
I am from Delhi (India) and have been in US for the past 15 months. At the beginning, the exam seemed to be very difficult. I scored a sore 530 on my first mock – Kaplan free test. The worst part was I scored a mere 23 on verbal. I used to think that with my convent education and a degree in economics, verbal would be my strength but the test told me otherwise. At this time, all I could hope for was to get close to 700. 740 seemed out of question.

Preparation - books and materials
I started off my preparation with the MGMAT books. I read the Number properties, Equations & Inequalities and word translations for quant and the SC, CR &RC books for Verbal. The quant books were excellent. For me, the number properties book was extremely high ROI followed by Inequalities (my weakness). On Verbal, the SC book was quite good but I found the CR and RC books to be average. 2 months into my prep, I was already hitting 630s on the MGMAT exams. My quant had gone up to 47 while verbal was hovering around a respectable 30 (MGMAT 1 – 580, MGMAT 2 – 630).

At this time, I decided that I needed a prep course to boost my verbal. After considering Vertias, MGMAT and Kaplan, I decided on e-GMAT’s live course because of its focus on verbal. This course took my preparation to the next level. The SC concepts that I learned through MGMAT were crystal clear after going through this course. Two other things helped me a lot on SC. Firstly the fact that the course is very heavy on application. There are these application files that don’t teach you anything but to apply what you have learned. Secondly, they have this OG solutions video course that is awesome. The downside is that such solutions are only available for SC and not for CR. The CR course when combined with live sessions is really good too. It helped me weave through the logic of arguments and provided me an approach for most CR questions types. My accuracy just shot up. I would definitely recommend this course if you need help on verbal. This course played a major role in improving my verbal from 30 to 42.

Preparation - Practice and Practice tests
I used the GMATPrep, MGMAT tests, and 2 tests from Grockit. I would say that the GMATprep tests were the closest indicator of my performance on actual test. I took GMATPrep 1 twice (first time initially and second time towards the end) and GMATPrep 2 once and scored 720 (Q48, V40) and 730 (Q46, V43). The MGMAT tests were really good for quant and good practice for Verbal. I would definitely recommend them for getting yourself in the test mold. I did find that the MGMAT tests were more lenient that GMATPrep towards mistakes but their probably their higher difficulty level did compensate for that. Overall, definitely good practice. The Grockit tests were ok. I would rate them below MGMAT and definitely below GMATPrep. I would recommend that you use a couple of these tests to get your stamina up before you take the MGMAT or GMATPrep tests. The Grockit question bank on the other hand was quite good. It helped me practice on my specific areas. Grockit RC + e-GMAT RC made a very good combination

My Lessons learned and helpful tips for others
I believe that preparation is one aspect of the GMAT. However, to ace it, you also need to look at the test more objectively because your goal really is to get an end score. You don’t need to be the best grammarian or the best critical thinker in the world to ace the exam. I did not realize that till about 2 months before my exam. Once I realize that, I felt that my scores improved faster and overall I was more efficient in my studies. Here are a few things that I would recommend:

1. Build a process with 80% repeatable accuracy: The GMAT will throw random (SC, CR, RC) questions at you. In a timed environment there is no time to invent and to do well you will need a standard approach for every question type. Take an approach using which you can efficiently solve 80% of the problems correctly and practice and master it. This would help you a lot. Remember you don’t need to solve every question on the GMAT to do well

2. Build on fundamentals: The GMAT tests your fundamentals. Initially, I struggled with CR because I focused more on elimination of answer choices by classifying them either as too extreme or out of scope. While these tricks definitely helped, they were not a proxy for fundamental understanding. In fact, I was able to use these approaches more effectively once I understood the fundamentals such as what a strengthener means, and how to strengthen an argument.

3. Revise and revise slowly: We all worry about timing while solving the questions and I think that it is the right thing to do. However, once you have solved a set of problems, go back and spend some time (at least 3 minute per question) revising the problems to understand the sentence structure in SC, logic swings in CR, etc. You will learn as much through these revisions as you did while learning the concepts. This would be useful in subsequent practices.

4. Don’t worry about the most challenging problems: Most of us do not aim for 800 and hence don’t need to do every problem correctly. According to Stacey from MGMAT, even 760 + scorers get 10-15% of the questions wrong. Hence, always assume that there are 10% of the problems that will go over your head. Ignore them and you will be much better off. Initially I spent a lot of time on solving every problem. I realized that I was spending 50% of my time on these 10% of problems. Also I had to tweak my process to solve these. I was much more efficient once I started ignoring some problems every now and then.

5. Follow the 80-20 rule in mocks: Pretty much the same point as above. Even in mocks, you will get some of these problems where you would not have any idea as to what the problem is testing. Don’t fret over it. Remember, half the battle in the mock is choosing where to spend time and you only need to do 75%+ correctly. Get into a habit of spotting these questions while taking your mocks. My performance improved considerably once I stopped spending time on these problems

6. Own up your weakness – You know it: After preparing for a few months, you will know your strengths and weakness. I realized after preparing for a few months that just accuracy is probably not the best indicator of weakness. For example, I had decent accuracy for assumption questions on Grockit even though I lacked confidence. This accuracy however did not translate into a stellar performance on MGMAT mocks. Once I told myself that I need to get more confident about these questions and worked on it, my performance on mocks improved.

7. Do OG twice: Very similar to the revising slowly. There are so many concepts in OG that you need to learn. Plan for doing OG twice. I found it very helpful.

Overall, I found this forum very helpful. The contributions by BB, people like souvik, bunel, gurpreet sing etc. helped me a lot. Compilation of GMATprep problems by legendaddy etc was also extremely helpful. SC articles by Shraddha form egmat were really helpful too. Thank you so much for contributing to my success and I hope this debrief contributes towards your’s.

-Pooja
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Re: 740 - If I can do it, anyone can (My tips) [#permalink] New post 30 Oct 2012, 15:10
How do you prepare for AWA section? Doyou know any sources to help with practicing AWA?

Thank you
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Re: 740 - If I can do it, anyone can (My tips) [#permalink] New post 30 Oct 2012, 15:28
Excellent debrief. I hope I can one day get to 740. a big thanks for taking the time to write the debrief. I am saving this debrief.
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Re: 740 - If I can do it, anyone can (My tips) [#permalink] New post 30 Oct 2012, 15:58
@pjolie: I am sure that you are not the average joe (jolie). How did you come up with the process for 80% accuracy
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Re: 740 - If I can do it, anyone can (My tips) [#permalink] New post 31 Oct 2012, 01:45
Very nice debrief Pooja. Really liked the 80-20 rule.

All the best for your apps.

BR
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Re: 740 - If I can do it, anyone can (My tips) [#permalink] New post 31 Oct 2012, 02:28
Amazing score congrats and great debrief
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Re: 740 - If I can do it, anyone can (My tips) [#permalink] New post 31 Oct 2012, 09:57
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First of all, thanks for the appreciation.


@tructran1986: AWA is a combination of reasoning + standard template. I recommend that you use the standard template and write down 3-4 passages. After that go through a few topics in your mind using the template. I think you get these templates in the GC welcome email.

@samramandy: I believe that its very counter-intutive yet very important. I realized that there will always be some questions that will trick me and leaving them is ok as long as you are not aiming to score 51 on verbal.

@ sanketsharma: I am your average person. I learned the process from the eGMAT course. They have these application files where they teach the process. The live sessions also reinforce the process very well. For SC, I would focus on the meaning and sentence structure before going through the answer choices. For CR, I did prethinking. It was really helpful and an excellent way to attack the more difficult problems.
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Re: 740 - If I can do it, anyone can (My tips) [#permalink] New post 31 Oct 2012, 10:10
Congratulations for your success !!

Can you brief me how did you prepare for IR Section ?
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Re: 740 - If I can do it, anyone can (My tips) [#permalink] New post 31 Oct 2012, 10:18
Very interesting debrief, definitely some new advises here. Thanks!
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Re: 740 - If I can do it, anyone can (My tips) [#permalink] New post 31 Oct 2012, 18:08
Hi Pooja,
Congrats!
May I know how did you prepare for data sufficiency? It is my weakest and most troubling part.
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Re: 740 - If I can do it, anyone can (My tips) [#permalink] New post 01 Nov 2012, 18:32
Expert's post
Congratulations on the excellent score and thank you for your insights. This was a very nice debrief!
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Re: 740 - If I can do it, anyone can (My tips) [#permalink] New post 02 Nov 2012, 00:47
Hi Pooja,

You took the entire course of e-gmat( SC, CR and RC ) ?

How did you tackle RC?

I heard RCs have become shorter these days on GMAT. How did you find RC on the GMAT.?

-Sachin
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Re: 740 - If I can do it, anyone can (My tips) [#permalink] New post 02 Nov 2012, 21:41
Congratulations for the score! :)
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Re: 740 - If I can do it, anyone can (My tips) [#permalink] New post 02 Nov 2012, 22:30
Congratulations Pooja, fantastic and a role model score.

one of the best debriefs I have ever read. I am just beginning to start the GMAT prep; can you help in clarifying:-

1. do you suggest I do the OG once now and then complete the OG nearing the end of my preparation ?
2. also should I join the online course rightaway or should should I join one post I clear my basics.

thanks.
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Re: 740 - If I can do it, anyone can (My tips) [#permalink] New post 05 Nov 2012, 10:31
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@aah123: DS is tricky. For me, the first thing was to tell myself that I dont need to solve the question completely. It seems simple but its very difficult for tricky questions where you tend to get into the solving mode. The second thing was to ensure that I dont repeat mistakes. I was obsessed not repeating mistakes on DS. I would spend 15 minutes revising any DS mistake. The third thing was to learn some standard shortcuts such as those on how to evaluate things in number line.

@ Sachin9: I took the entire course. I believe that RC is about confidence more than anything. With OG and the practice in eGMAT RC I felt well prepared for RC. The passages on the GMAT were similar to those on GMAT Prep. The were a notch about most OG passages but did not need any new strategies. I would definitely reocmmend the Question pack from GMAT Prep.

@ GP28: I did the OG once before and then once with the egmat course. I would recommend that you do OG with whichever course you are planning to take. Doing OG well helps build confidence so you should do it once you have the basics covered. Regarding basics, IMHO the egmat course covers most of the basics. I would have saved a lot of time had i taken it earlier.
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Re: 740 - If I can do it, anyone can (My tips) [#permalink] New post 05 Nov 2012, 18:31
Congrats on your achievement!!Does real gmat questions are similar to OG-13th edition??
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Re: 740 - If I can do it, anyone can (My tips) [#permalink] New post 05 Nov 2012, 19:50
is OG12 enough for practice?
I have one more question:
Had you finished with one section and moved to another or you were doing both simultaneously to be on track?
It happens with me that when i do one section and try to work on my weaker areas in that section
i loose confident..in another one and feel to restart again..
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Re: 740 - If I can do it, anyone can (My tips) [#permalink] New post 05 Nov 2012, 22:01
@pjolie: thank you so much. I have signed up for the egmat course and will try to apply the techniques you mentioned. Any pointers for me to get started.
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Re: 740 - If I can do it, anyone can (My tips) [#permalink] New post 29 Nov 2012, 18:44
Excellent debrief!!!!! Congrats and best of luck.....

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Re: 740 - If I can do it, anyone can (My tips) [#permalink] New post 06 Dec 2012, 02:35
Congrats dear Pooja..
Would you mind sharing your IR Score???
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Re: 740 - If I can do it, anyone can (My tips)   [#permalink] 06 Dec 2012, 02:35
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