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770 (Q50, V44) - First Try - The story behind it

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770 (Q50, V44) - First Try - The story behind it [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2013, 01:01
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Hey guys,

Just took my GMAT yesterday (04.02.2013), here in Bucharest, and got a 770 (Q50, V44).

My training started late October 12' and ended right before the exam: that gave me roughly 3 months, although, to be fair, I had about 2-3 weeks during that time in which I didn't study at all, since I also interviewed for some jobs. All-in-all, lets say I had 2 & 1/2 months (full-time) to prepare. Below, I'll lay out how I prepared and what I did, hope you'll find some of the stuff useful:

Materials used:
1. GMAT Official Review 12th & 13th edition
2. GMAT Verbal Review (2nd Edition)
3. GMAT Quant Review (2nd Edition)
4. Complete MGMAT Test Prep: all 10 books in the series

Chronology of Study

Late October <-> Late November
Basically I started getting used to the question types in all categories of Verbal and Quant. I was doing a lot of questions out of the OG (12th ed.) just to try and get a feel for the type of structure they wanted and how correct answers sounded like. This wasn't a correction review intensive period, as I wasn't spending too much time analyzing all my errors.

Late November <-> Late December
At this point, I had received my MGMAT test prep collection - I ended up reading and studying pretty much all of the books (10), with about 2-3 spent per book, depending on what I considered my weakest spots after the initial month of question-answering. I was fairly structured about taking notes based off the books, especially on the quant part. In point of practicing, I def took it easy during this time, doing far fewer questions (most of them MGMAT) but nonetheless taking my first MGMAT CAT - 660 (Q45, V35), without IR and essay.

14th of Jan <-> 3rd of Feb
As I mentioned, the holidays teamed up with a job interview abroad and I was "forced" to interrupt studying for about 2-3 weeks. Really got me demoralized and kind of scared of actually taking the GMAT. But that's when I realized I had to step it up. In the 3rd and 4th week of January I started taking 2 full MGMAT CAT per week (Monday, Friday - including essay and IR) while focusing on individual question solving and error reviewing on Tue, Wed, Thu. I scored 680 (Q46, V37), 720 (Q45, V43), 680 (Q45, V37), 690 (Q45, V38).
My last week and a half of training focused exclusively on Official GMAT/mba materials - and I recommend this to everyone. I took the 2 GMAT Prep tests in my last week, scoring dramatically different from my MGMAT CATs: 750 (Q50, V42) and 760 (Q49, V44). Additionally, I was all over the GMAT Official Review, doing a lot of practice questions - probably somewhere at 100-120 a day. I marked all the ones I missed and the last 2 days before the exams, I went through the errors (especially for math) - also reviewing most of my notes from Nov/Dec.

On the 4th of Feb, I took the GMAT and scored my most consistent scores ever - what's worth mentioning is that I tend to do well on exam days, focusing on what I have to do (as an example, my highest SAT scores were scored on my exam day as well).

Tips and Remarks:

1. MGMAT Prep - I do recommend it, puts emphasis on showing you the shortcuts and tricks, I am satisfied with the general content. What I would like to talk about however are the GMAT CATs. As you can see from above, they were misleading in point of the Quant. My scores were consistently at 44/45, a lot lower than on exam day and the GMAT Test Prep CATs. I was always running out of time on the MGMAT, getting frustrated with the gargantuan amounts of calculations that had to be done - 4 times i ended up with 7 questions to go and around 1 min per question to do them :)) - i was like lawl. Don't get me wrong, I prefer the option in which I score 10 on all my practice test and then score 800 on exam day, but I think, with all due respect to MGMAT guys, that they should try to make their Quant stuff more real test-like. Verbal-wise, I found MGMAT to be accurate and overall very good. As a conclusion, for me, the GMAT Prep tests delivered the most accurate results by far.

2. A tip that I would like to offer: if you have 3-5 more days to go before exam day, no matter your confidence level, STOP reading forums ! ! ! Seriously, no matter what other people experience, your path is different - stop over-thinking stuff, stop second questioning yourself - get it together and go get the score you want!

3. I'm a fan of full CATs to prepare for the exam. Take the 8 min breaks, watch the clock and get used to the real thing - every time I was taking a CAT, I was getting better at correcting time management issues, which I think are essential in having a cool-head and not freaking out during the test.

4. Use the essay and IR during exam-day to shake off the fact that you are nervous. I was brain-farting for the first 12 min of the AWA and then I got it together and gained some confidence. It doesn't count to your 200-800; if you're nervous, lose all of that in the AWA and IR - be cool by the time you're in Quant. Also, TAKE THOSE 8 MIN BREAKS ! ! Really try to clear your mind and just switch your mindset from quant to verbal - it's a leap and make sure you're ready for it when you go back.

Last thing: A BIG THANK YOU TO GMAT CLUB - I wasn't really very active posting or anything during my training and I can't say I spent days on the site, but seeing the ambition of people here and seeing their drive and motivation, well, that really raised the bar. Thank you for that.

Good luck guys ! !
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Re: 770 (Q50, V44) - First Try - The story behind it [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2013, 04:35
Congrats for this wonderful score! Good luck with your applications! What schools do you plan on targeting?

PS: Bucharest is a wonderful city! ;)

All the best,
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Re: 770 (Q50, V44) - First Try - The story behind it [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2013, 07:10
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bgpower wrote:
Congrats for this wonderful score! Good luck with your applications! What schools do you plan on targeting?

PS: Bucharest is a wonderful city! ;)

All the best,


Hey, thanks a lot - I actually went to undergrad in the US at Dickinson College and I made some really good Bulgarian friends there.

Yeah, school-wise, since i had a 3.84 GPA in undergrad with honors, i'm really kind of hoping for the top 5 schools - i'll be applying this autumn for a full-time mba starting 14' - so fingers crossed ;)
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Re: 770 (Q50, V44) - First Try - The story behind it [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2013, 12:35
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Hey,

Congratulations for the wonderful score. I have just started my GMAT Prep and I might not have as much time as you had to prepare. Can you give me some tips to cut down my preparation time?

Also, I do not know what the MGMAT material is? And by the GMAT review, I hope you mean the OG? Sorry if this sounds silly!
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Re: 770 (Q50, V44) - First Try - The story behind it [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2013, 13:17
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dhruvd wrote:
Hey,

Congratulations for the wonderful score. I have just started my GMAT Prep and I might not have as much time as you had to prepare. Can you give me some tips to cut down my preparation time?

Also, I do not know what the MGMAT material is? And by the GMAT review, I hope you mean the OG? Sorry if this sounds silly!


Hey,

Thanks a lot ! ! Sorry, my bad, the GMAT review is the OG 13 and then you have the specialized Verbal 2nd edition and Quant 2nd Edition. Also, the MGMAT Preps are the Manhattan GMAT Prep Materials. I got the complete set of 10 books from them [basically 1 for each verbal section, then a bunch for quant (algebra, number proprieties, geometry etc.), and a general guidebook).

I guess if I were to cut some time, and I would have 6 weeks, I would do:

1 week of getting used to question formats (covering all the types of sections in the OG);
2 weeks of going through essential theory (from MGMAT/other prep material and OG) and brushing up weaknesses identified in the 1st week;
2 weeks with 2 CATs per week (Monday/Friday), working through OG and MGMAT practice questions on (Tue/Wed/Thu) - focusing on stuff that you're weaker at; (keep brushing up theory)
1 week of ONLY GMAT Prep stuff - GMAT Prep CATs (Monday/Friday), only OG practice questions on (Tue/Wed/Thu)
(last 2 days before the exam, only review questions that you got wrong in the OG, make sure you know how to solve them now - especially in quant)

That would be my plan honestly - and in my case, the GMAT CATs were by far the most accurate test predictors - there are subtle differences between real GMAT questions and prep material questions, and it's useful to be totally in the zone with the real stuff by the time you take the exam. As I said before, I was a big CAT test fan, as this really helped me to deal with time management and adjust stuff on-the-go during the real thing. In quant, for example, I had 21 mins left with 12 questions to go, I speeded things up and got back on track without panicking.

Obviously, this is just my opinion - I am sure there are many other ways of timing things.

Hope it helps and good luck ! !
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Re: 770 (Q50, V44) - First Try - The story behind it [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2013, 13:40
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Thanks for the advice! Seems good. I'll start preparing and tell you how it goes :)
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Re: 770 (Q50, V44) - First Try - The story behind it [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2013, 13:48
See how it goes and just adapt it as fast as you can to your own rhythm and needs - you should also check out what other people are saying on this site regarding prep schedules :)

All the best
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Re: 770 (Q50, V44) - First Try - The story behind it [#permalink] New post 11 Feb 2013, 15:26
How beneficial did you find the Advanced Sections of the MGMAT books?
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Re: 770 (Q50, V44) - First Try - The story behind it [#permalink] New post 13 Feb 2013, 07:55
Hey,

Well, when it comes to the MGMAT Books, I mainly used them for the Quant section - I didn't bother going all out on the Verbal stuff, since, in my case, all I needed to do in Verbal was to get used to the type of questions in the test and to the kind of reasoning needed to solve them.

Sooooo - for the Quant Section of the MGMAT books, I have to say that I found a bit of a disconnect between their advanced questions and the type of advanced questions on the actual GMAT/ GMAT Prep. What I did find very useful though were the Word Problems / Overlapping Sets / Combinatorics explanations in the MGMAT books - they really helped me get a better grip on these areas in which I was kind of weak.

I don't really know what else to say - hope this helped
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Re: 770 (Q50, V44) - First Try - The story behind it [#permalink] New post 25 Feb 2013, 18:26
Congrats on the great score and good luck with your applications . From your experience what do you advise me to do regarding these aspects?

1.Which is more advisable , to dedicate a few days for studying each section individually or doing mixed sets?

2.How to make the best use of an error log ? I mean that I keep a reference of every question I get wrong (indicating the error type), guess or am not sure of the answer (even if correct). How many times a week do I have to check this log ? and how do I best exploit this data for my improvement?

Thanks in advance :)
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Re: 770 (Q50, V44) - First Try - The story behind it [#permalink] New post 02 Mar 2013, 05:22
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TheNona wrote:
Congrats on the great score and good luck with your applications . From your experience what do you advise me to do regarding these aspects?

1.Which is more advisable , to dedicate a few days for studying each section individually or doing mixed sets?

2.How to make the best use of an error log ? I mean that I keep a reference of every question I get wrong (indicating the error type), guess or am not sure of the answer (even if correct). How many times a week do I have to check this log ? and how do I best exploit this data for my improvement?

Thanks in advance :)


Hey,

Some really good questions there, I wish I had the magic answers to clear things up, but there's no right/wrong recipe for it.

1. For your first question, my advice would be to do individual sections, especially for the stuff that you have identified as weaknesses - really go at them, get the theory right and nail a good 20 questions right on that topic. (the problem solving part should help you in memorizing the correct way to solve these problems in the
future)

2. If you're uber organized, you could probably undergo this really detailed approach you mentioned - in my case, it was more intuitive let's say - i would identify the general topics in which I kept making mistakes, and I would go back to the MGMAT books, revise their advice on how to solve them, and go back and solve problems - it was a back and forth - for probabilities, I pbbly did this about 4 times - by the end, I was getting them right. I don't think there is a clear mathematical formula to go by (check 3 times on SC, check twice on geometry DS) - I think that with time, your brain gets accustomed to the types of questions the GMAT gives you. You start acting intuitively - especially in Verbal (sometimes, an answer just LOOKS RIGHT).

Sorry I can't be more helpful, as I said, I wish I had the answers, it would have made my job a lot easier too

All the best and good luck to you
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Re: 770 (Q50, V44) - First Try - The story behind it [#permalink] New post 02 Mar 2013, 06:08
isacr wrote:
TheNona wrote:
Congrats on the great score and good luck with your applications . From your experience what do you advise me to do regarding these aspects?

1.Which is more advisable , to dedicate a few days for studying each section individually or doing mixed sets?

2.How to make the best use of an error log ? I mean that I keep a reference of every question I get wrong (indicating the error type), guess or am not sure of the answer (even if correct). How many times a week do I have to check this log ? and how do I best exploit this data for my improvement?

Thanks in advance :)


Hey,

Some really good questions there, I wish I had the magic answers to clear things up, but there's no right/wrong recipe for it.

1. For your first question, my advice would be to do individual sections, especially for the stuff that you have identified as weaknesses - really go at them, get the theory right and nail a good 20 questions right on that topic. (the problem solving part should help you in memorizing the correct way to solve these problems in the
future)

2. If you're uber organized, you could probably undergo this really detailed approach you mentioned - in my case, it was more intuitive let's say - i would identify the general topics in which I kept making mistakes, and I would go back to the MGMAT books, revise their advice on how to solve them, and go back and solve problems - it was a back and forth - for probabilities, I pbbly did this about 4 times - by the end, I was getting them right. I don't think there is a clear mathematical formula to go by (check 3 times on SC, check twice on geometry DS) - I think that with time, your brain gets accustomed to the types of questions the GMAT gives you. You start acting intuitively - especially in Verbal (sometimes, an answer just LOOKS RIGHT).

Sorry I can't be more helpful, as I said, I wish I had the answers, it would have made my job a lot easier too

All the best and good luck to you


You were more helpful than you can ever imagine .. thank you and best regards
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Re: 770 (Q50, V44) - First Try - The story behind it   [#permalink] 02 Mar 2013, 06:08
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