A Lucky Escape : Share GMAT Experience
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# A Lucky Escape

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Manager
Joined: 29 Jul 2004
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09 Oct 2004, 09:55
Dear GMAT Club Members,

It has been a long ordeal that has lasted over 3 intense months and arguably 2 years. Frequent disappointments often caused me to throw in the towel but several posts on this forum glorified stories of some amazing fightbacks from the brink of defeat and some even had a touche of 'romance'. Well, my story is not quite as dramatic or romantic but could do its bit to encourage people.

My first attempt was in Sep 2002. I studied on my own (GMAT Club - where were you?) and had virtually depended on OG, PR and the Kaplan workbook - a disappointing 650.

Sep 25, 2004: Second attempt accounted for intense 3 months of preparation over the last few months and although not as active as some other members of the forum, I did try to add value where I think I could instead of indulging in mindless posts (nothing wrong with that!) I was amazed at my own consistency: scored 650 again with almost identical score distribution as in my first attempt: Q47, V33

I used only 3 sources for my preparation:

OG, Manhattan GMAT Online Course, GMAT Club Participation.

Against much conventional wisdom (GMAT is adaptive; it adjusts to your true ability; you wont improve your score by much), I decided to take one final attempt and that too on the eve of my 30th B'day - they say once you're over the hill, you get miraculously wiser.

Oct 5, 2004:

AWA was usual - even had the audacity to blatantly lie about why buildings in Thailand have conical structures - now if it is graded by someone who is a native of Thailand, I will need to rely on the collective prayers of this club.

Math: 1. Average(E) 2. Geometry (M) 3. Combinations(MH) 4. Exponents(E) 5. Number Properties (MH)

Those were the first 5 questions where E=Easy; M=Medium; MH=Medium Hard.

Very soon, the questions became very hard and remained so till Q20. The OG is a joke compared to the questions I received on the test. The myth about high scoring students not facing Geometry questions while true, the questions itself are super tough! The GMAT Club Challenge while tougher is more reflective of the actual test, especially for 80 percentile scorers and above!

I faced a lot of long-winded "Word" problems - it sometimes took me close to a minute to read and understand what the question is asking for - that explains why I was behind on time! However, I went with a specific strategy and didnt waste more than 2.5 minutes on any question. Also, I faced an interesting question on Average that was concealed as spreadsheet analysis but very easy once you know what ETS was getting at.

I finished with about 15 seconds remaining - is it Parkinsons Law - work expands to fill the time available

Then came the much dreaded Verbal portion: the first three questions were SC; then a 40 line RC and a few CR's.

Luck came in when around the 11th question when I faced an RC whose contents I was somewhat familiar with from my readings earlier... thanks to a friend who works in the field of american history.

The third RC is what I think did the trick for me: its was 85 lines long and had 4 extremely difficult questions; however, it was about currency exchange rate fluctuations, capital flow of goods and services, trade deficits and monetary economics - a subject that I deal with on an almost daily basis for my work. I nailed it!

Inspite of these advantages, I had to guess on the last 2 questions. Interestingly enough, there were no bold-face questions.

It was a liitle unbelievable but when I clicked on the "Report Scores" button, it said 740 - Quant 49, Verbal 42.

One other strategy: I have always had problems with mental stamina; I took a generous dose (2 capsules each) of Ginseng, Ginko Biloba and Whole Vitamin with Grape juice before the start of the exam and during the 2 breaks. I had tremendous clear-headed ability and felt I could go for another hour or so. Maybe, it had a placebo effect but it did work.

A word of thanks and gratitude to all members on this forum who not only tolerated my questions but ever so willingly helped me out with insightful replies along with charitable words like how great my question was... Special note of thanks to the founders who brought this forum together.

And lastly gratitude to Paul [boy, is that surprising ] and hardworker_indian and some other veterans ...

In Paul's now immortal words, I killed the GMAT beast!
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09 Oct 2004, 10:30
Brilliant score. Three cheers my friend. You tamed it. Congrats. All the best in your apps.
Director
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09 Oct 2004, 11:28
Cool man. Now, go get drunk.
Congrats!

One more 700+ to Gmat Club. Man, I have seen as much as 20 or so 700+ in the last month. Isn't that surprising?
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09 Oct 2004, 13:05
What can I say? The score speaks for itself and you did it I don't think you can call it "lucky" this time All the best for your future endeavors drdas. We are all proud of you
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Best Regards,

Paul

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09 Oct 2004, 14:53
Congratulations. Thanks for your feedback on the GMAT Club Challenges. That helps

How did you prep on various sections ( PS/ DS /SC...) any specific changes you made to your prep style?

Hope you keep visiting and offering advice to others

Praetorian
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13 Oct 2004, 08:24
Praetorian wrote:
Congratulations. Thanks for your feedback on the GMAT Club Challenges. That helps

How did you prep on various sections ( PS/ DS /SC...) any specific changes you made to your prep style?

Hope you keep visiting and offering advice to others

Praetorian

My prep style was largely consistent throughout my preparation:

I took a Manhattan GMAT online course, primarily to improve my "verbal" skills; Math is another story as I dont think any of the prep courses consistently discuss problems that are targetted towards 85-90% scorers and above. So, the best bet is to practice as many questions as possible on the GMAT Club, consistently participate in the Challenges and review your errors and mistakes. Another option is to disect difficult questions and 'think' in ETS terms as to how they can be manipulate the question but essentially test the same concept. I cannot speak for other materials like PR or Kaplan Hard Math as I didnt have the time to review them.

Verbal: That was my biggest worry. The Manhattan GMAT course led me through a structured verbal learning process. Especially in SC, the course did an excellent job of separating SC questions into the different categories: Parallelism, Altered Intent, etc. - so each week the course focussed on developing a specific skill and used the OG as a bible. I think that helped me a lot.

I intend to scan the Manhattan GMAT question categorisation and post it on the website. That apart, I would regularly try to attempt SC questions on this website. I didnt have the time to do any of the GMAT+ questions.

People say one cannot improve CR and RC by much - however, I solved every single verbal question in the OG.

Also, as a suggestion, there are tremendous posts on this website about verbal concepts. Some of them have been analysed to death. It will be immensely beneficial if someone could consolidate all these verbal 'gems' and put it together as a tutorial. It will take a lot of work but if somebody can volunteer to be the aggregator and others can keep feeding him material, it can manifest into the most powerful work on verbal theory.

For CR, I did about 70-80 odd questions from the LSAT guide. For RC, I read the 'Economist' regularly - that may have helped - and since all my colleagues at work are American, ever since I signed up for the GMAT, I would keep a close ear on their language - how they speak, the words/punctuations they use, etc.

Hope this helps!

Das
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13 Oct 2004, 08:55
Congratulations, job well done
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13 Oct 2004, 12:02
Congrats on the BIG score.
I have a genuine question about Ginseng and Ginko Biloba and Whole Vitamin. What are these drugs for? Are they available in all pharmacies without prescription? Why did you take them with grape juice? Is that required?
I also have a lot of trouble from the 'stamina' perspective, so I would really appreciate your answers.
Thanks and good luck on your apps!
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13 Oct 2004, 22:41
mbahope wrote:
Congrats on the BIG score.
I have a genuine question about Ginseng and Ginko Biloba and Whole Vitamin. What are these drugs for? Are they available in all pharmacies without prescription? Why did you take them with grape juice? Is that required?
I also have a lot of trouble from the 'stamina' perspective, so I would really appreciate your answers.
Thanks and good luck on your apps!

I think these are chinese root medicines that claim to "enhance memory". I am not sure abt the stamina part. My understanding is that is that these would be effective with continued intake, rather than on just on the exam day. Yes, these are available over the counter in any US pharmacy.

I took some fresh juice from a vitamin shop nearby (http://www.jambajuice.com). Again not sure abt grape - I searched arnd in the websites with the same question, but found none. Probably grape is just das's favorite

For stamina - if you feel lost, my personal advice: "Close your eyes and relax for 20 seconds. Think about how worried your loved ones would be, if they hear you couldn't do well in the exam. Then think about how happy they would be, to hear you did really well."
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14 Oct 2004, 06:04
The reason i specifically sked about these drugs and grape juice is because i think on this or some other similar site, i read about a person who did the exact same thing (took 2 capsules with grape juice).
Hence i was curious.
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14 Oct 2004, 07:39
Well... lets be clear - these are not miracle drugs that will produce a flash of brilliance during the exam. The claim about the drugs acting as a 'memory enhancer' is also optimistic at best. Maybe, it will work in the long run.

However, it did boost my stamina. Hardworker is right in that it wont work if you just take it on the test day. So start with some small doses 10 days prior to the exam and build it up to the recommended dose by the test date.

Why grape juice? No personal preferences - just read somewhere that Grape Juice accelerates intake into the blood stream. Also, DO NOT make this a habit as it can effect your liver over the long run, but its fine for a few days.
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14 Oct 2004, 14:28
bit late here but congratulations. That was great effort.

However I do not agree with the medicine advice. I am surprised no one has raised this.

I would not recommend any drugs (even the ones available at counter) to enhance performance. If you need more stamina, do more practice. If there is a health problem, it is different but taking medicine merely to increase the stamina/performance is not right. The concept is wrong. In no time, one will get used to the concept and this would be first step to disaster later on. Just my opinion.
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GS
No excuses - Need 750!!!

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14 Oct 2004, 20:47
I agree with you GS and this is not "advice" that I would recommend - it is just something that may have worked for me and I mentioned it as part of my experience. I could have avoided reference to it at all but still chose to share with the members of the forum... we can turn this into an 'ethics' debate but just a few thoughts:

a) These are not prescription drugs but more like herbal remedies with purportedly no side effects. However, I still think regular use or abuse over the long run can be ruinous to one's health and I made that clear from the onset.

b) What is a medical condition and what is not is debatable... is low memory a medical condition? Is low mental stamina and frequent mental fatigue a medical condition? If not, then surely the GMAT is biased towards those who have greater stamina.

There is no substitute for practice. I took over 15 full practice tests under timed conditions but the practice only marginally alleviated my fatigue...I would suffer from splitting headache midway through the verbal section. Now, will that be termed as a medical condition?

Thats my \$0.02 - in conclusion, I still agree with you that its not ethical for the same reasons doping is banned in Olympics - its not in the spirit of the game.
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14 Oct 2004, 21:56
I have to agree with GS- I think that some readers might misinterpret the mention of these "herbal" remedies as an endorsement. We can all think of a number of natural substances that are toxic regardless of whether they are regulated as controlled substances by the state.

Hjort
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15 Oct 2004, 07:35
Yep, I agree with GS.
There is a subtle point that we all miss here. Two more two-cents:
1) None of these medicines claim stamina, I guess. They only claim "enhanced memory".
2) Any test taker who takes this medicine - even though he may not get a physical stamina enhancement - gets mentally strong. I mean, the thought that you have taken something to overcome stamina builds up the stamina. Atlast, everything is in the mind.
15 Oct 2004, 07:35
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