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A serene state of mind ... 740 (44Q, 48V, 6AWA)

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A serene state of mind ... 740 (44Q, 48V, 6AWA) [#permalink] New post 05 Sep 2007, 22:14
Okay, not quite sure about the etiquette regarding the length of these testimonials, but mine's probably going to be pretty long (the stuff that I think really helped me is under the bolded statement). My situation is a little unusual, albeit no more unusual than anyone else's =) I hope this will be readable as I'm still pretty fried and now that I'm finished with the GMAT, I'm going to give up smoking and over-the-top grammar (read: grammar-nazi!)


I just took the GMAT today and surpassed my own expectations. While I know 740 isn't the highest of scores, for someone who was only hoping for 700, I'm pleased as punch. What really surprised me was that my verbal score carried me. I've always known that I wasn't terribly strong quantitatively, but I figured I was just pretty balanced overall.

In any case, my score of 740 equated to 44Q, 48V. For comparison's sake, I've taken 20 practice tests (8 w/o AWA, 12 with) which I will enter into the statistics on this site later. The following is some data from my practice exams. Please note that I took the 4 Kaplan tests at the very beginning of study (in May) and again at the very end of study (in August). The scores didn't seem to change much, so I don't think it skewed my data ... well, except for the documented problems with Kaplan's tests.

highest overall: 710 (GMAC, Kaplan)
lowest overall: 560 (Kaplan)
mean overall: 643.5

highest quant: 50 (Kaplan)
lowest quant: 22 (kaplan)
mean quant: 40.75

highest verbal: 44 (GMAC)
lowest verbal: 31 (Kaplan)
mean verbal: 36.95

About my prep:

I had the luxury of being able to step back from my job into more of a consulting role and move back home in order to focus more fully on the GMAT. As such, I opted not to take a class (although, I was highly tempted since the Kaplan book was the first I went through =P ). I went through about 7 books while following the 300 hour plan. I tried to keep a very disciplined schedule of studying in the morning, working out in the afternoon, and studying again in the evening. I also took my first 8 practice tests (w/o AWA) interspersed with studying. If I had to do it all over again, I would've found this site much earlier (I only found it with 3 weeks to go!) and gone through the Manhattan GMAT books. Well, I would've preferred the stuff in the next paragraph not happen ....

Then, on July 1, my dog passed away at the age of 12. It was rather sudden and very difficult for me. Then, at almost the same time, I found out that my old director (of IT) was leaving the company. Unfortunately, he was the only one in the company I didn't get along with (so...no letter of rec -- hopefully, a good explanation and my role as consultant will help take care of that in my applications). Anyway, the VP of HR called me to invite me to interview for his position (didn't end up working out...). Then, the next week, my father had a (thankfully, negative) cancer scare that was quite difficult emotionally. That lasted for another week and a half. In any case, July was a very emotional month and I had to really force myself to stay focused, although, altogether, I took about a week and a half off from studying.

Sorry, these are a lot of details, this is the stuff that I thought really helped me.

I spent pretty much the entire month of August doing full length practice exams. I did this to focus on building up my mental stamina. Roughly every other day, I would do a full exam and nothing else. Then, the following day, I would review all the answers. I inserted the delay because when I review answers, I generally try to do the problem again from scratch first and then review the answer right away, so I wanted the questions to be not as fresh in my mind. I was a little frustrated with the scores as I wanted to establish some consistency, but, I tried to remain focused on building that endurance and becoming more familiar with the experience itself. I took all my breaks -- I always drank beverages only during breaks and always made sure to splash some cold water on my face.

The last week, I pretty much tried to relax. I did problems on the site and reworked some old problems, but mostly tried to build my "mental confidence" back up.

Finally, the day of, in my opinion was just as crucial as the preparation itself. I had been drinking energy drinks (I really like Vitamin Energy) and had been weaning myself off of them during the last few weeks. I drank three today ... spaced out, of course and I didn't crash until well after I was finished with the exam. But, what I found most important was a quote that randomly popped into my head as I was on the freeway enroute to the testing center. It was actually from an anime series that I've been watching (from 1994!) I offer it to anyone who doubts his or her potential (fansub translation): A serene state of mind enables one to surpass one's own abilities. I kept hearing that in my head as I was shouting cliche slogans at myself while driving =)

My advice is to do all the prep you can, but in the end, never doubt your own potential. During the test, my mind was calm even though I could feel my heart pounding in my chest roughly 70% of the time. My hands and feet were cold, despite the fact that I have excellent circulation but, this was not because I was nervous. After the fact, I rationalized I must've been willing my brain to pull more blood out of circulation =)

Just remember, with the right state of mind, in the right moment, you truly do have the potential to surpass your own abilities!

Oh, and if possible, try to smile and stay positive. I lightened the mood a bit with all the staff members at the facility and even got some laughs ... of course, outside the testing room. I think it also helped my state of mind. Remember, there's a lot of nervous energy in the air and they have to deal with that day in, day out. Never waste an opportunity to brighten someone's day. I joked around with the proctor when I was doing my last fingerprint -- I told him it might not match because my fingerprint is much more confident than it was when I first came in =)

Good luck, or rather, best of success, everyone!

Last edited by entranced on 11 Sep 2007, 03:09, edited 1 time in total.
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 [#permalink] New post 05 Sep 2007, 23:03
Congrats:)))!!! You are really lucky man!!!! Your verbal is inspiration!!! Please, post the breakdowns on your CATs in chronological order!!!
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 [#permalink] New post 05 Sep 2007, 23:31
Congrats. Your verbal rocks :)
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Sep 2007, 05:53
entranced,

You beat me at verbal :) Great job!

A grueling essay writing process awaits you :P
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Sep 2007, 07:17
I see the manhattan review books are part of the 300 hundred hour plan..did you use them?
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 [#permalink] New post 11 Sep 2007, 03:08
Hello all,

Thank you for your kind words -- it's nice to have such a supportive environment even though so many of us could potentially be in direct competition with each other. I just got my official score report -- my AWA was a 6, so I'm quite happy. I'm currently trying to plan out my school/program visitations. I forgot to mention that I took about a week in August to write ALL my essays. I wanted my recommenders (3 recommenders split amongst 7 schools) to have all my essays available to aid with the letter writing process. While it was a grueling week (about 12,000 words give or take), I'm happy to report that that preparation put me in a good position on this home stretch. I'm tapping pretty high up individuals that I've had significant experience working with, but given their high up positions on the totem pole, I wanted to make sure they took my efforts seriously.

I wrote all my essays as well as a general statement of purpose. I also included some letter writing guides as well as some general "stuff I'd like to emphasize" information. Of course, I also included the deadlines. I then printed everything out on really nice paper. In addition, I purchased some 1 gig flash drive/laser pointer/pen combo thingees (technical term =) and loaded an electronic version of the document (one big document with a clickable table of contents) for easier searching. The document itself was pretty small, but I wanted to purchase at least 1 gig drives so they would have something practical to use going forward.

You know though, I'm kind of left wondering whether schools look closely at the breakdown in your GMAT score as mine is a little unusual (and hopefully will indicate that I'm well balanced).

My best to everyone .... I will try to post chronological practice test scores soon.

Oh and regarding the Manhattan Review books, this is my opinion:

I'm a bit on the ropes about the Manhattan Review books. I think they provide good practice but I must comment that the verbal sections, especially the RC, are quite difficult. In fact, they were a bit frustrating at times. However, during prep time, it's often better to err on the side of greater difficulty. One thing that I will say about the books though is that there were more than a handful of times that answers were incorrect. Either they were printed incorrectly, had incorrect reasoning, etc. In fact, I have relayed some of this information back to gmattutor.com as well as to the friendly folks at Manhattan Review.

Lastly, even though purchasing the 4 books (verbal questions & solution guide, quant. questions & solution guide) gets you access to 4 online CATs, these CATs leave me a little unsatisfied. They don't have an automated registration process, so you have to fill out a form with your purchase information and send it off to the company and wait 3-4 days for your CAT codes. I also wasn't very satisfied with the accuracy of their tests. The quantitative was easier in some parts and totally irrelevant in other parts (they have a strong emphasis on graph reading and interpretation, which I didn't see at all on the GMAT). Furthermore, the verbal section was quite a bit more difficult than the actual test. But, for me, since I was just using practice tests at the end to build up my mental endurance, they were still worth my time.
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 [#permalink] New post 11 Sep 2007, 03:37
you wrote all your essays in a week and that too during your GMAT preparation ??
This is quite an excellent job. You have made essay wirting process look so simple !!
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 [#permalink] New post 11 Sep 2007, 11:59
Hi Entranced,
Enjoyed your debrief a lot. Your words on staying positive make a lot of sense. I'll be taking the test at the same center as you :wink: Hoping to get a score in the 7XX range as well.

Good luck with your applications.
  [#permalink] 11 Sep 2007, 11:59
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