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# A tough Journey from 520 to 730

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Manager
Joined: 26 May 2011
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A tough Journey from 520 to 730 [#permalink]

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02 Dec 2011, 21:33
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730 Q50 V38 AWA 5.5
Finally got my 700+ score on the GMAT. A big thank you to the GMATCLUB community. It wouldn't have been possible without you guys.

Intro

I’m a mechanical engineer, worked in General Motors for a few years. I wasn't even planning to apply for MBA until 2013, but an unexpected lay-off changed things and my future plans. So, I decided to take GMAT mid-summer this year. In my first diagnostic CAT, I got a score of 520 and I think I was happy about that because I thought it was very close to the GMAT average score. After doing extensive research, I registered for MGMAT, in-person classes. I must admit, taking MGMAT classes was a big waste of time & \$. But that doesn't necessarily mean that it will be a waste for you as well. Why I thought of registering in the MGMAT class? Keep reading for an answer to that.

Phase 1

Research for books
Ordered a long list of books:
Official guide 10 & 11.
MGMAT books. MGMAT also provides OG 12 and verbal review 2nd edition and quant review 2nd edition.
Kaplan premier 2012 (barely used it for 3 days)
Criticle reasoning bible (just read through it once, but didn’t learn much from it)
Aristotle Prep SC (didn’t use much)

Books borrowed from the library
LSAT 180 (didn’t do much)
Kaplan’s Mastery the LSAT (highly recommend to improve reading comprehension and critical reasoning)

Phase 2

Quant
Being an engineer, quant comes naturally to me, but I still wanted to do it first to get it done with. MGMAT quant guides are AWESOME with an exception of strategy guide#2, percents, & ratios, useless for the most part. Some of the questions in the MGMAT strategy guides were very unlike GMAT questions but still worth doing.

Phase 3

Critical Reasoning
I was very very weak in critical reasoning. Like many others, I had never done critical reasoning prior to the GMAT. I always got it down to 2 answers and almost always picked the wrong answer. So to improve the odds of getting a question right, when it got down to two options, I always picked the one that I thought was wrong (joke). To improve my critical reasoning skills, I ordered critical reasoning bible. I read through each and every single chapter of the book. After finishing the book I tried to attempt some CR questions and my success rate jumped up to 50% from 45%. I was very frustrated. Then one day, after extensive practise, I got 90% of CR questions right. I was very excited and I thought I could do well on the GMAT.

Phase 4

Sentence correction: ” The biggest hurdle”
I cannot stress enough how important it is to practise as much as you can for sentence correction. A lot of people just ridicule SC 1000, but if you ask me, I think SC 1000 is a god sent gift to those who want to improve in sentence correction. For my first attempt, I just went through OG 10, 11 and 12 and verbal review for sentence correction with an accuracy of 80%. I still wasn’t confident at the end about sentence correction.
Here’s why I registered for MGMAT course. Hoping that MGMAT can help me with sentence correction because I didn’t think I could do well on SC without some help. MGMAT actually made it worse and my accuracy went down, so in hindsight it was a waste of money.

Phase 5

I have done fairly well in reading comprehension. Other than OG, I used Kaplan’s mastery the LSAT. Passages in the mastery the lsat are so boring that its hard to read more than 3 in a day but I stuck to the goal of doing 4 everyday. I think reading comprehension was my strength in the verbal section. To ensure that you get most of the questions right, try to personalize the reading comprehension passage and try to take interest in it. I hate reading about historians and sociology stuff but when it came down to GMAT I wanted to know more about them.

Phase 6

Register for the GMAT ahead of time. I took my GMAT on 12th October for the first time.
GMAT prep scores:
Prep 1 720
Prep 2 680
I caught flu 2 days before the exam, but I didn’t wanna cancel my test. I took the exam and scored 620 AWA 5.5. I was very disappointed to say the least. The world came to an end. I did nothing for next 4-5 days. I was so depressed that I didn’t even want to talk to anyone. I was so sure that I’m going to re-take but I didn’t know when I want to re-take because I was scared of a re-take.

Phase 7

Re-register for the GMAT for December 1st. Since October 12th, my first GMAT, I barely studied for 25 hours. All I did was SC 1000 and E-gmat SC course. To those who want to recommend Sentence correction and those who think they can’t do anything else to improve their sentence correction consider SC 1000 and E-gmat. MGMAT taught me to focus more on key words rather than meaning. I think their approach made it worse for me and I did so bad in SC. Just a day before the exam, I quickly browsed through the MGMAT quant strategy guides.
GMAT prep scores for 2nd attempt. I didn’t remember the answers or anything from GMAT prep exams that I had taken earlier, therefore, the scores weren’t inflated
Prep 1 770 Q50 V45
Prep 2 730 Q50 V 38
Prep 1 (Retake) 780 Q 51 V47 (Re-installed GMAT prep. didn’t get too many repeats)

Test day experience

On my first GMAT attempt, I was very sick and very very nervous. Nervousness drained me and by the time I got to the exam centre I was already tired. Never did essay section at home during the practise exams and ,as a result, by the time I got to verbal I was so tired that I didn’t even care to read carefully. End result 620
On my second attempt, I was very confident that I could score 700 plus. My exam was at 1:30 PM and the exam centre is less than 5 mins away from my house. A lot of people recommend having a good night sleep a day before the exam and I can tell you it makes a huge difference. I felt so energetic while I was taking my exam that I was able to maintain high concentration level throughout my exam.
In the end, a score of 730 popped up. Before going in to the exam I was thinking that I’ll score something between 730 and 760. Had I known that my wish will come true, I’d have asked for 780-800 haha. I was happy, relived, content to see a 730.

Few tips

1. GMAT is very learnable. The more you do better you get at it.
2. Don’t take it personally. I had never done well in standardized exams in the past, so I took it very personally to prove a point to myself. As a result, I was very nervous during the first attempt and I bombed it.
3. A lot of people stress it enough, make sure you write essays in practise GMAT exam. I didn’t listen to those who advise to write essays during practise exams. My score could've been better had I taken those essays seriously.
4. Sleep well a night before, it can make a huge difference.
5. One size doesn’t fit all. If something worked for someone else, it might not work for you. Try a few things and figure out what works best for you.
6. Highly recommend SC 1000. It can really help you if you need a little more practise for SC.

Please feel free to ask any questions. I’d be more than happy to contribute to this community.

Random note
1) I might just take GMAT again to see if I can do better than 730.
2) In October, GMAT questions were weird and unlike OG, for me atleast. On my second attempt on December 1st, almost all the questions were very much like OG 12 questions.

Edit: AWA score

Last edited by cvsmech on 07 Dec 2011, 09:42, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: A tough Journey to 730 [#permalink]

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04 Dec 2011, 03:14
Congratulations cvsmech!
great outcome of all the hard work put in
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Re: A tough Journey to 730 [#permalink]

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04 Dec 2011, 03:46
Many Many Congratulations... Nice debrief...
Manager
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Re: A tough Journey to 730 [#permalink]

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04 Dec 2011, 09:11
Thanks alicegmat and neeraj7k.

Feels good to be done with the GMAT!

On to applications now !!
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Re: A tough Journey to 730 [#permalink]

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05 Dec 2011, 02:16
congratulations!!!!! and good luck for the application part
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Joined: 24 Oct 2011
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GMAT Date: 11-29-2011
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Re: A tough Journey to 730 [#permalink]

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05 Dec 2011, 02:37
Congrats.. Hardwork rewards.. Thanks for ur valuable suggestions..
Manager
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Re: A tough Journey to 730 [#permalink]

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05 Dec 2011, 15:35
Thank you guys.

I've gotten a few messages to share some tips for RC. Hope I can help you with that.

First and foremost, I'd highly recommend that try to take interest interest in RC passages. IF you read them with a will to learn about the subject you'll gain a lot more.

Sometimes, NOT ALWAYS, especially in bio passages, I made notes while reading the passages. For example: just write down names of people who discovered something and the years with a brief description of what happened in that year. WRiting down names will not only help u make notes but also help you to remember who did what and who said what, when. Sometimes when you've 10 people saying 10 different things in a passage its always good to write down names to distinguish who said what.

I always used process of elimination effectively to eliminate wrong answers. Wrong answers will always mean something more or something else other than the real answer choice. Don't actively look for the right answer choice right away. Pre-phrase your answer if you can and then browse through the choice and eliminate the ones you think can not be the answer. You'll be left with the right answer choice in most cases.

Always try to read the first few lines carefully to learn what the passage is about. Pay attention to words that change the flow of the passage for example words such as however, although, Nevertheless, on the contrary, These words usually introduce an opposing view. Other words such as because, since, as a result introduce some premise to support the conclusion as in CR. Practice as much as you can. In some time, while reading the passage, you'll figure out what questions gmat is going to ask you.

Some passages are very hard to understand cuz of their scientific or historical background. In those cases just read as much as you can and understand as much as you can. Most of the times gmat doesn't even want you to understand the whole passage so if there's something that you don't understand something in the passage, chances are you won't even need to know it.

TO be on the safer side just try to memorize the location of the information in the passage so that you can come back to it if need be.
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Re: A tough Journey to 730 [#permalink]

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05 Dec 2011, 20:46
Hey congrats ! Could you tell us what your practice test scores were ? ( like practice tests other than the GMAT prep )

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Re: A tough Journey to 730 [#permalink]

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06 Dec 2011, 07:58
Other than GMAT prep, I took MGMAT and Knewton tests only.

Towards the end I also did a few GMAT club tests.

MGMAT scores

Test 1 520 (Diagnostic)
Test 2 610
Test 3 640
Test 4 680
Test 5 720
Test 6 680

I got my MGMAT tests reset after my first attempt on the GMAT.

I only took 3 MGMAT tests the second time.

Test 1 710 Q48 V40
Test 2 700
Test 3 720

In gmatclub tests, I consistently got 32+ correct on quant and 35+ correct on verbal.
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Re: A tough Journey from 520 to 730 [#permalink]

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06 Dec 2011, 12:02
So based on that Mgmat tests are a little bit harder than the actual GMAT right ?

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Re: A tough Journey from 520 to 730 [#permalink]

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06 Dec 2011, 12:05
Also from your Mgmat test 5 and Mgmat test 6 there was a 40 pt drop , is it normal for the fluctuations to be this large ? I'm asking because I took a Kaplan test 2 weeks ago and scored a 690 , then I took another one 4 days later and dropped to 640 !

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Re: A tough Journey from 520 to 730 [#permalink]

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06 Dec 2011, 15:28
It's tough for me to comment on that without knowing the kind of mistakes you made. But I'd suggest you to not to worry about it at all.

Moreover, kaplan is worse known for scoring algorithm on its tests, so if you see such fluctuations on kaplan's tests, I'd say don't let it bother you. I know some people who got 53 in quant on kaplan tests and some got 45 when they only made one mistake in the whole section.

Try this calculator online. http://gmatclub.com/gmat-score-calculator/

Reading debriefs on this website, I've learnt that people usually score more on the GMAT than on kaplan.

Regarding MGMAT Tests, they're definitely much harder than the GMAT CATs, especially quant. Verbal is about the same level. The only difference is that in MGMAT tests you'll find 3-4 RC passages of 60-70 lines in every single passage which is unusual on the GMAT, results in less time available on verbal sections.

In hindsight, I had better chance of scoring higher on the GMAT than any of these tests because they were harder than the real gmat or gmat prep tests.
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Re: A tough Journey from 520 to 730 [#permalink]

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06 Dec 2011, 19:06
Cool thanks !
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Re: A tough Journey from 520 to 730 [#permalink]

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15 Dec 2011, 08:28
congratulations!
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Re: A tough Journey from 520 to 730 [#permalink]

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09 Jan 2012, 09:35
a nice de-brief....congrats n wish u luck...
_________________

Fire the final bullet only when you are constantly hitting the Bull's eye, till then KEEP PRACTICING.

A WAY TO INCREASE FROM QUANT 35-40 TO 47 : http://gmatclub.com/forum/a-way-to-increase-from-q35-40-to-q-138750.html

Q 47/48 To Q 50 + http://gmatclub.com/forum/the-final-climb-quest-for-q-50-from-q47-129441.html#p1064367

Three good RC strategies http://gmatclub.com/forum/three-different-strategies-for-attacking-rc-127287.html

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Re: A tough Journey from 520 to 730 [#permalink]

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09 Jan 2012, 18:53
Thanks meisam63 & rajeevrks27.
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Re: A tough Journey from 520 to 730 [#permalink]

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24 Jan 2012, 18:55
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Re: A tough Journey from 520 to 730 [#permalink]

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24 Jan 2012, 23:42
First of all, a big congrats on breaking the 700 mark.

I'm currently working on SC and its really killing me. Could you please tell me how you studied for SC. I'm using Manhattan SC however, due to lack of questions at the end of each chapter, I feel the concepts aren't really sticking in my head. The book refers you to OG problems but I haven't touched OG yet since I did not want to waste those questions this early on. But I'm having second thoughts now. Maybe I should just practice those. I would really appreciate if you could shed light over this issue. Also a silly question. What is SC1000
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Re: A tough Journey from 520 to 730 [#permalink]

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25 Jan 2012, 00:04
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aisha12 wrote:
First of all, a big congrats on breaking the 700 mark.

I'm currently working on SC and its really killing me. Could you please tell me how you studied for SC. I'm using Manhattan SC however, due to lack of questions at the end of each chapter, I feel the concepts aren't really sticking in my head. The book refers you to OG problems but I haven't touched OG yet since I did not want to waste those questions this early on. But I'm having second thoughts now. Maybe I should just practice those. I would really appreciate if you could shed light over this issue. Also a silly question. What is SC1000

It is a book in pdf format and contains a set of sentence correction questions as well as some theoretical background. More information can be found here:

http://www.aristotleprep.com/

I haven't tried it myself though.
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Re: A tough Journey from 520 to 730 [#permalink]

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25 Jan 2012, 09:57
aisha12 wrote:
First of all, a big congrats on breaking the 700 mark.

I'm currently working on SC and its really killing me. Could you please tell me how you studied for SC. I'm using Manhattan SC however, due to lack of questions at the end of each chapter, I feel the concepts aren't really sticking in my head. The book refers you to OG problems but I haven't touched OG yet since I did not want to waste those questions this early on. But I'm having second thoughts now. Maybe I should just practice those. I would really appreciate if you could shed light over this issue. Also a silly question. What is SC1000

Aisha,

I believe the practice questions at the end of chapters in MGMAT SC are sufficient to consolidate the concepts learned, so give it another look. I actually made notes from each chapter to memorize the grammar rules.
For example, where ever you see "since" you've to use present perfect. (easy one anyway)
Another example, where ever you see "within past few years" it has to be present perfect again. Memorizing these things helped me identify key words. They are all mentioned in MGMAT SC in a whole page and I summarized it for myself in two lines.

Write down some examples in notes if you like. So in the end I had about 30 pages of hand written notes and I had the whole MGMAT SC concepts condensed in 30 pages and I was able to learn and use all the grammar rules.

Sentence correction 1000 = SC1000. It's a collection of 1000 old GMAT questions. Search for it through google search engine and you'll be able to find some useful practice questions. It helped me become confident on my second attempt. Before I used SC 1000, I was always able to narrow it down to 2 options and then always ended up picking the wrong answer. But practicing 1000 real gmat questions helped me learn from mistakes I made.

KEY THING for me was to eliminate the wrong answer choices rather than finding the right one. Always looked out for change in meaning, voice, tense. Try to prove that the answer choice is wrong and the one you're left with should be the answer, provided you did your due diligent to eliminate the wrong answers.

Most importantly, its okay to make mistakes now but not okay to make mistakes on the real GMAT so take time to practice as much as you can and learn from mistakes.

Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any more questions.
Re: A tough Journey from 520 to 730   [#permalink] 25 Jan 2012, 09:57

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