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780 GMAT Debrief - Back Yourself!

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780 GMAT Debrief - Back Yourself! [#permalink] New post 26 Oct 2012, 02:47
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I began thinking about taking the GMAT about 3 months ago, and really settled down to intensive revision about 3-4 weeks ago (I am between jobs at the moment so I had the time to study intensively) During this time I have found these boards to be a great source of materials, advice and encouragement. As such I thought I'd post a little debrief on my experience just in case it helps anyone.

I took the GMAT yesterday and scored a 780 (Q49, V51 - Is this the lowest Q score ever to make the top percentile?), a result with which I am absolutely delighted! I'm particularly thrilled given that last Friday, having just completed another Manhattan CAT and having failed once again to break 700, I sent a very disheartened email to my wife saying that I didn't think I was going to be able to score in the top 10%, and we should probably forget about the top business schools.

On the quantitative side, I found the GMATClub tests to be a great help. I didn't expect when starting out that I would find the quantitative side as challenging as I did (I'd studied economics as an undergrad, although I graduated about 7 years ago). I would say that If you're scoring well on the test on this site, as well as the Quant sections for either the Kaplan or Manhattan CAT's, you can expect to do well in the real exam. Getting used to working accurately under the time pressure was the hardest thing to do, and I only achieved this through many hours of strictly timed practice.

I guess the advice my score most qualifies me to give however is on the verbal section. My advice here is most relevant to other native speakers, as I can not imagine how one would begin to approach a test like this in a foreign language (huge respect goes out to all of those out there who somehow manage this however!). My advice is quite simple. Work as hard as you can on SC questions, but don't do much work on either CR or RC. SC requires you to know grammatical forms and idioms that you will only learn to recognize by working hard, and once again I found Manhattan useful here. It was my experience though that neither Manhattan nor Kaplan were any good for CR or RC prep. The "difficult" examples they give are most often not difficult, but just poorly written, fuzzy, or unclear. Nothing on the actual GMAT was like that in my experience. In my opinion, you're better off backing your own intuition rather than cluttering your mind and introducing self doubt by learning the "techniques" these guides try to introduce. Your scores on the Kaplan or Manhattan practice tests my suffer as a result but don't lose heart. You should see a pick up when you take the GMATPrep test, and on the actually day itself. See my CAT scores below as a case in point. My quantitative scores improved over time, and where generally a good indicator of my final score, but my verbal scores where all over the place, and generally much lower than I achieved on test day, or in either of the GMATPrep exams (the slight improvement over time in V score was entirely down to getting better at SC questions). I scored a 700 only once in 9 practice CATs!

If you want to know if ignoring the prep material on CR and RC is a good strategy for you, I'd recommend testing yourself like I did. Get hold of a copy of the Official Guide, turn to the end of the CR section (questions are harder towards the end), and answer the last 20 questions under timed conditions. Do the same for RC. If you get the vast majority of these right, then close the book on these sections. You're good enough already and you don't want start doubting you're generally correct intuition. Use the time to work on SC and the quant side.

Another thing I did that definitely helped on test day was that I was totally strict about the conditions under which I took the practice tests. As test day approached I did all of my CAT's under strict timed conditions. I would write the essay before I began each one, not allow myself to have coffee or water at the desk (for some reason you're not even allowed water in the exam room), leave the room to eat energy bars in the 8 minute breaks, and I used the test simulation booklet from Manhattan to get used to the scratch pad. Being strict with myself like this definitely helped me to build the stamina need to crush the verbal section on test day.

That's about all the advice I've got. A really big thank you once again to this forum and the all of it's contributors. Good luck to everyone, and remember - Back Yourself!

Tom

CAT scores

Kaplan (note, Kaplan breaks down quant and verbal scores as a percentile rather than a score, no idea why)
Date Q Percentile V Percentile Overall Score
8/8/12 55th 87th 630
16/8/12 53rd 87th 620
24/9/12 61st 96th 660
28/9/12 68th 98th 680
19/10/12 70th 92nd 670

Manhattan
Date Q Score V Score Overall Score
5/10/12 Q45 V37 680
12/10/12 Q45 V38 690
17/10/12 Q48 V36 690
21/10/12 Q47 V38 700

Gmat Prep 1 (10/10/12) - 740 (Q49, V42)
Gmat Prep 2 (23/10/12) - 760 (Q49, V44)

Actual Gmat (25/10/12) - 780 (Q49, V51)
Kaplan GMAT Prep Discount CodesKnewton GMAT Discount CodesManhattan GMAT Discount Codes
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Re: 780 GMAT Debrief - Back Yourself! [#permalink] New post 26 Oct 2012, 02:57
wow :shock: , and congratulations !!

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Re: 780 GMAT Debrief - Back Yourself! [#permalink] New post 26 Oct 2012, 08:10
wow incredible jump on verbal !! You rocked !! Congratulations....

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Re: 780 GMAT Debrief - Back Yourself! [#permalink] New post 26 Oct 2012, 12:11
Congrats on getting an awesome score!
Can you please answer my below queries:
What kind of questions did u encounter during the exam,especially in quant.Which topics u feel one should stress more on in quant?
Do u think the level of difficulty was the same as that of gmatprep exam?
I am finding OG13 newly added quant questions( last 30) quite difficult.Do you feel the difficulty level was thereabout?

Thanks,
Shreeraj
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Re: 780 GMAT Debrief - Back Yourself! [#permalink] New post 26 Oct 2012, 13:08
Excellent debrief! Happy apping !

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Re: 780 GMAT Debrief - Back Yourself! [#permalink] New post 26 Oct 2012, 16:01
Heartiest congratulations.

I'm quite speechless at that verbal score and that jump from practice tests.

You talk about SCs, how were they on the real thing? I heard they are shorter these days and dont have a normal 2/3 splits. Any areas, which came up more than others?

Also, what about RC/CR difficulty level? comparable to MGMATs?

Best

P.S: I've come back after reading it again. It looks more unbelievable each time I look at those CAT scores. :)

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Re: 780 GMAT Debrief - Back Yourself! [#permalink] New post 29 Oct 2012, 05:39
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"Congrats on getting an awesome score!
Can you please answer my below queries:
What kind of questions did u encounter during the exam,especially in quant.Which topics u feel one should stress more on in quant?
Do u think the level of difficulty was the same as that of gmatprep exam?
I am finding OG13 newly added quant questions( last 30) quite difficult.Do you feel the difficulty level was thereabout?

Thanks,
Shreeraj"

Hi Shreeraj, thanks for the reply. With regards to the quant exam, learning how to break numbers down into their prime factors and applying this was probably the single technique I used most. There where also quite a lot of data sufficiency questions on number properties (which I hate!). There where a few geometry questions, and a least one where having the 5-12-13 triangle memorized saved me time.

It's tough to speak generally about the difficulty of the questions you can expect since the exam is adaptive. My quant score was not actually that high (Q49 = 83rd percentile), and at this level I would say the more difficult of OG where a decent representation of the tough questions asked.

Good luck.
Tom
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Re: 780 GMAT Debrief - Back Yourself! [#permalink] New post 29 Oct 2012, 05:53
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jumsumtak wrote:
Heartiest congratulations.

I'm quite speechless at that verbal score and that jump from practice tests.

You talk about SCs, how were they on the real thing? I heard they are shorter these days and dont have a normal 2/3 splits. Any areas, which came up more than others?

Also, what about RC/CR difficulty level? comparable to MGMATs?

Best

P.S: I've come back after reading it again. It looks more unbelievable each time I look at those CAT scores. :)


Thanks Jumsumtak. I'm not going to claim I didn't luck out a bit here!

That said, I would refer to my earlier point about RC / CR. As far as I can tell the MGMAT and Kaplan questions that are "difficult" are for the most part just written such that they are unclear or fuzzy, often without a clear right answer. I never scored below 99th percentile on a Gmatprep or actual GMAT, but never got about 85th percentile on MGMAT almost entirely because of this. Whilst there are some hard questions in the actually exam, that caused me to go back and read the section again and again looking for the relationship or line of reasoning that was being examed, once I had found that line of reasoning, there was always very clearly 1 answer that was correct. I would say that if you are doing well on the hard questions in the OG, don't worry if you're struggling with MGMAT. I really don't think they are a good representation of how these concepts are examed in the actual exam.

With regards to SC, (and here I will give credit it MGMAT, as well as the veritas flashcards), I did see quite a few questions that had the old 3/2 spilt in there. I also remember at least a couple of questions testing the subjunctive, and quite a few on pluralism, and a few idomatic constructions being tested "As X to Y.... ect".

Good luck, hope this helps.
Tom
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Re: 780 GMAT Debrief - Back Yourself! [#permalink] New post 29 Oct 2012, 09:52
Thanks for sharing. I especially appreciate your tips on doing an RC and CR self-assessment. It's interesting to note that your Practice Gmat scores were more indicative of your eventual performance on the official test than either Kaplan's or MGMAT's practice tests.
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Re: 780 GMAT Debrief - Back Yourself! [#permalink] New post 31 Oct 2012, 10:29
Amazing job on Verbal and very, very interesting advice about RC and CR. Immense score, well done and thanks for your debrief.

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Re: 780 GMAT Debrief - Back Yourself! [#permalink] New post 01 Nov 2012, 10:42
congrats! fantastic job! I find your experience very inspirational because it, thus far, sounds similar to mine. I can only hope to have a score nearly as good as yours. I've been studying for a little over a month now, on a three-month plan, and so far my three manhattan gmat CAT scores have been 690, 650, 690, far below my target of 760. However, I took the first GMATprep this past weekend and scored a 760, also Q49 V44 (if only that were the real exam!).
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Re: 780 GMAT Debrief - Back Yourself! [#permalink] New post 02 Nov 2012, 00:27
schen1119 & Tomwest,

Your posts have rekindled the hope in me..
I took MGMAT1 2 weeks ago and scored a 630 Q 40 V36. . People say Quant in Manhattan tests are really tough..

Tomwest ! hats off to you on your fantastic Verbal Score. . Verbal is really a tough thing for non natives like me. ..

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Re: 780 GMAT Debrief - Back Yourself! [#permalink] New post 02 Nov 2012, 02:25
Fantastic Score! :shock:
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Re: 780 GMAT Debrief - Back Yourself! [#permalink] New post 02 Nov 2012, 15:56
Congrats on the great score.

Very good advise on RC and CR.
I had similar experiences while reading them from sources like Manhattan and PowerScore Bible etc. They try to give unclear and wierd explanations which cause a lot of confusion.
But that being said, it would be great if you or some other experts can point out better sources for CR and RC ( considering that the OG has a limited number of questions).
Re: 780 GMAT Debrief - Back Yourself!   [#permalink] 02 Nov 2012, 15:56
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