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A non-native English speaker's experience: From 460 to 760

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A non-native English speaker's experience: From 460 to 760 [#permalink] New post 27 Dec 2010, 21:46
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Hi All,

I am kind of long time lurker especially in Business School Application Forum but I just had enough time and willingness to share my GMAT story with this community that helped me a lot during my applications. I am sorry in advance because of not making my post a very-well structured one.
After loooong hours of thinking and discussion with people close to me in March 2010, I decided to make an MBA in USA. (I can share my thought process and how I chose my target schools in another post) Then I decided to take TOEFL before GMAT by thinking that my TOEFL preparation would positively affect my GMAT efforts. I took timed TOEFL and GMAT exams to asses myself and initially I was discouraged a lot with my GMAT score (I took the GMATPrep1 (diagnostic exam) and I scored a 460 in that with a very very low verbal score. I scored 43 in total for Reading & Listening sections of TOEFL IBT) Analyzing my gaps in both exams, I decided to take TOEFL in May 2010 and GMAT in September 2010 so that I could apply R1s of my target schools.

Until mid of May, I studied only for TOEFL. Then I switched to preparing for GMAT. Despite a decent TOEFL score (I got 113 in IBT), I focused on verbal part during my GMAT preparation because English is not my native language and because quantitative part of GMAT was not that hard for me thanks to my engineering background. I also focused on improving my pace in both parts of GMAT.
During my preparation, I used whatever resource I could find. However, the most that contributed to me were Official Guide for GMAT Reviews, Manhattan’s Practice Exams, Kaplan’s GMAT Verbal Foundations and GMAC’s old tests. I also solved 800score’s practice tests. As I live in a relatively isolated part of world in terms of GMAT preparation (I live in Central Asia), I was not able to participate in a study group so my self-study had to utilize all possible resources. Here are my few general tips for everybody:

- I believe that studying everyday regularly is essential for GMAT success. This looked like the only way to create a sense for correct answer (i.e. educated guess ability) to me. Even if your job requires a lot of working on weekdays (like that of mine), do your best to allocate sometime in the evening for GMAT preparation.
- Reading fiction books really helped to improve my verbal score. I learned lots of phrases naturally and memorized them without much difficulty during exam. (I applied following rule during reading fiction)
- For non-native speakers, it is important to have a dictionary with you when studying especially for the verbal part. Do not ignore any unknown word; check meaning from dictionary for any such word. Do that even when you don’t remember the meaning of the word second time you see it. This helped a lot especially for CR questions when knowing the meaning of a single word can make a significant difference.
- During preparation, focus on your weaknesses without getting bored. Initially, I liked dealing with quantitative part of GMAT because I was able to improve my performance easily on that. I was afraid of even reading long and boring reading passages but that was a necessary evil. I convinced myself that studying verbal part was essential for my goals.
- Take the exam when you feel that your performance is nearing its peak and that it will be too hard to improve further. I believe this is a good way to reduce increasing nervousness during preparation for exam. Even though I intended to take the exam in September, I felt that increase in my verbal performance was diminishing fast at the end of June and I re-registered for the exam for mid-July. When I got a good score, I cancelled my September appointment.
- Despite all criticism, MGMAT seemed a very reliable indicator of GMAT performance to me. In order to use it effective, be sure that you checked and understood solutions of any question that you didn’t answer correctly.
- I can’t mention enough the importance of keeping your pace during the exam. Practice this during all preparation exams and even when solving question sets. Stretch yourself during preparation for keeping your pace (i.e. Aim solving each question in 75-80 seconds except RC) and you will be OK in the exam.
- A week before the exam, I took GMAT Focus Online Quantitative Diagnostic Tool and GMAT Write. They were pretty reliable indicators of my GMAT performance. (I got a 5.5 AWA, same score in GMAT Write)
- I had a 51Q 42V split in the exam.

I will be happy if my tips help somebody. If you want to ask more details, I would be more than happy to answer your questions. I wish all of you good luck in the exam and in your applications.
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Re: A non-native English speaker's experience: From 460 to 760 [#permalink] New post 27 Dec 2010, 21:49
Good job!
Especially 51 in Math!
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Re: A non-native English speaker's experience: From 460 to 760 [#permalink] New post 28 Dec 2010, 12:17
Awesome job!
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Re: A non-native English speaker's experience: From 460 to 760 [#permalink] New post 28 Dec 2010, 13:09
Great score and awesome strategy. Congragulations!
You have given motivation to non-native speakers like me :)
I'm already reading some fiction books (picked up from bb's list here) and that's getting me into the habit of reading. I have also borrowed a basic grammar book from my library, just to cement the fundamentals into my head :P
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Re: A non-native English speaker's experience: From 460 to 760 [#permalink] New post 28 Dec 2010, 20:23
Financier & vannbj thanks for your praises :)

heygirl, I believe you are on the correct path to a great GMAT score. On top of what you currently read, Kaplan’s GMAT Verbal Foundations could help you a lot in acquiring new phrases and using them correctly. As non-native speakers, we start the race a bit behind but this can be offset easily. I am sure you will do that.
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Re: A non-native English speaker's experience: From 460 to 760 [#permalink] New post 28 Dec 2010, 20:31
astalaa wrote:
heygirl, I believe you are on the correct path to a great GMAT score. On top of what you currently read, Kaplan’s GMAT Verbal Foundations could help you a lot in acquiring new phrases and using them correctly. As non-native speakers, we start the race a bit behind but this can be offset easily. I am sure you will do that.

Thanks for ur reply!. Yes. I shall incorporate Kaplan Verbal in my strategy too.
Effectively for how many months did you study? I have booked my test for mid of march.
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Re: A non-native English speaker's experience: From 460 to 760 [#permalink] New post 28 Dec 2010, 20:43
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heygirl wrote:
astalaa wrote:
heygirl, I believe you are on the correct path to a great GMAT score. On top of what you currently read, Kaplan’s GMAT Verbal Foundations could help you a lot in acquiring new phrases and using them correctly. As non-native speakers, we start the race a bit behind but this can be offset easily. I am sure you will do that.

Thanks for ur reply!. Yes. I shall incorporate Kaplan Verbal in my strategy too.
Effectively for how many months did you study? I have booked my test for mid of march.


I think you will be OK by taking the test for mid of March. I studied for 1.5 months (from end of May to mid July) for GMAT and before that I had studied for another 1.5 months (from end of March to mid of May) for TOEFL. (As I mentioned, my TOEFL preparation positively influenced my GMAT studies) I studied in the evenings (2.5 - 3 hours per day) on weekdays. At weekends, I studied for longer hours (6-7 hours per day). I just want to reiterate that my study included just a little quantitative part preparation as I was already very familiar with most of the concepts there. For quantitative part, I just solved practice tests and learned nothing new. If you feel like you need to prepare for quantitative part as well, you might need some more time than me and I see you already have that. I hope this was helpful for you :)
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Re: A non-native English speaker's experience: From 460 to 760 [#permalink] New post 28 Dec 2010, 20:54
astalaa wrote:
I think you will be OK by taking the test for mid of March. I studied for 1.5 months (from end of May to mid July) for GMAT and before that I had studied for another 1.5 months (from end of March to mid of May) for TOEFL. (As I mentioned, my TOEFL preparation positively influenced my GMAT studies) I studied in the evenings (2.5 - 3 hours per day) on weekdays. At weekends, I studied for longer hours (6-7 hours per day). I just want to reiterate that my study included just a little quantitative part preparation as I was already very familiar with most of the concepts there. For quantitative part, I just solved practice tests and learned nothing new. If you feel like you need to prepare for quantitative part as well, you might need some more time than me and I see you already have that. I hope this was helpful for you :)

Thanks again. Kudos +1 :-D
Well, I have 2.5 months and I've just made a strategy for myself(in another post). So,hopefully will stick to it :-). I have quit my job so I can definitely squeeze in 3-4 hours a day of study.I'm waiting for my MGMAT books to arrive by mail :) and then I"ll get started. Right now, just doing some non-GMAT reading and grammar.
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Re: A non-native English speaker's experience: From 460 to 760 [#permalink] New post 28 Dec 2010, 21:16
heygirl wrote:
astalaa wrote:
I think you will be OK by taking the test for mid of March. I studied for 1.5 months (from end of May to mid July) for GMAT and before that I had studied for another 1.5 months (from end of March to mid of May) for TOEFL. (As I mentioned, my TOEFL preparation positively influenced my GMAT studies) I studied in the evenings (2.5 - 3 hours per day) on weekdays. At weekends, I studied for longer hours (6-7 hours per day). I just want to reiterate that my study included just a little quantitative part preparation as I was already very familiar with most of the concepts there. For quantitative part, I just solved practice tests and learned nothing new. If you feel like you need to prepare for quantitative part as well, you might need some more time than me and I see you already have that. I hope this was helpful for you :)

Thanks again. Kudos +1 :-D
Well, I have 2.5 months and I've just made a strategy for myself(in another post). So,hopefully will stick to it :-). I have quit my job so I can definitely squeeze in 3-4 hours a day of study.I'm waiting for my MGMAT books to arrive by mail :) and then I"ll get started. Right now, just doing some non-GMAT reading and grammar.


Thanks for kudos :) I just read your post about your GMAT strategy and posted my thoughts about your strategy there.
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Re: A non-native English speaker's experience: From 460 to 760 [#permalink] New post 28 Dec 2010, 21:28
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Congrats!!! Excellent result!
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Re: A non-native English speaker's experience: From 460 to 760 [#permalink] New post 28 Dec 2010, 21:35
walker wrote:
Congrats!!! Excellent result!


Thanks :)
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Re: A non-native English speaker's experience: From 460 to 760 [#permalink] New post 29 Dec 2010, 03:11
Hi, I wonder your first total Toefl points?

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Re: A non-native English speaker's experience: From 460 to 760 [#permalink] New post 29 Dec 2010, 03:17
Q51! For how long have you been out of school?
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Re: A non-native English speaker's experience: From 460 to 760 [#permalink] New post 29 Dec 2010, 03:26
Fairness,

I used one of Cambridge's diagnostic tests and there were guidelines for scoring reading and listening only. I believe that my speaking and writing perfomances deserved barely 20 for each.

PadawanOfTheGMAT,

I finished my undergraduate degree in 2004.
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Re: A non-native English speaker's experience: From 460 to 760 [#permalink] New post 29 Dec 2010, 10:36
Thanks for the debrief and congratulations, very nice score!
Good luck in your applications.
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Re: A non-native English speaker's experience: From 460 to 760 [#permalink] New post 29 Dec 2010, 11:29
astalla - awesome score.....how did you improve your quant side of the score????
I am currently exhausted. My major problem has been focus and concentration.

btw you took your exam in mid-july but posting it now?
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Re: A non-native English speaker's experience: From 460 to 760 [#permalink] New post 29 Dec 2010, 11:47
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wow - congratulations!
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Re: A non-native English speaker's experience: From 460 to 760 [#permalink] New post 29 Dec 2010, 15:26
Very well done! This is the way to go I guess xD
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Re: A non-native English speaker's experience: From 460 to 760 [#permalink] New post 29 Dec 2010, 16:26
Congratulations!!!!
I feel pretty happy for you 8-)
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Re: A non-native English speaker's experience: From 460 to 760 [#permalink] New post 29 Dec 2010, 21:04
Thanks for the congrats :)

amma4u, you are right that I had my exam in July and I posted my story just a few days ago. I know it's a shame on me and I won't defend myself for not posting my story earlier :) Anyway, I believe my story could be useful especially for non-native English speakers because most of the time we start the game a few steps behind and don't exactly know what to do for GMAT preparation.

Regarding your other question, as I was already very familiar with most of the concepts in quantitative part of GMAT, I just solved questions from official guide and retired&diagnostic tests. Once again, I can't mention enough the importance of learning solutions of and re-solving the questions that I couldn't answer correctly at the first time. It really helped to improve my weakness areas, in quantitative part as well. Just don't omit any question, ensure that you understood solution for any question you couldn't answer correctly at first time.

Last but not least never give up focus and concentration; this will motivate you to study everyday and this way your educated guess ability will be better by time.
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Re: A non-native English speaker's experience: From 460 to 760   [#permalink] 29 Dec 2010, 21:04
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