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Almost gave up studying... Ended up with a 770 (Q:49, V:48)

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Almost gave up studying... Ended up with a 770 (Q:49, V:48) [#permalink] New post 26 May 2011, 13:47
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I took the GMAT November 9th, 2010 after deciding to pursue a Masters Degree in Finance. Here's my experience

I had been out of school (finance undergrad) for about 6 months when I started to study for the test and I was shocked at how rusty I had become. My undergrad experience focused on excel and financial calculators, so I really struggled at first. I even considered sticking with my investment sales job that I hated to avoid having to take the GMAT, but in the end I am very happy that I did.

So, to start off, here are the materials that I used:
Official GMAT Guide. This is a must have in my opinion. It has a ton of actual past GMAT problems to solve and a little strategy advice too. I wouldn't rely on the short subject topics as a study guide, but it is perfect for practicing Quant and Verbal problems.

Manhattan GMAT Study Series (8 Separate Books). I attribute my GMAT success almost completely to this study set. To be totally clear, I haven't used any of the other similar sets. But, I can say that this program sharpened my skills (math and verbal) more than any college course. The writers teach the subjects in the context of standardized, timed testing. So, not only do you learn (re-learn) the subjects, you develop great test taking skills. I cannot say enough about MGMAT.

GMATPrep Tests: These tests that come with the OG are really good for realistic test practice. You absolutely HAVE TO practice with real computer adaptive tests or you will be in trouble on test day. No pausing either!!

Thats it. I bought those materials on Amazon and sold them after the test on eBay for a $20 loss. Not bad right?

So, I started studying 6 weeks before the test. I procrastinated for about 3 weeks before that, so I was a bit pressed for time. I spent about 3-4 hours a day except on the weekends. The first thing I did was the OG diagnostic test. I did terribly. I missed about 30% of the questions all together. I did equally poor in both math and verbal, so I decided to simply go through the MGMAT guides one book at a time. Each book has it's own set of practice problems (think quizzes) after each chapter and a comprehensive "test" of problems from the OG at the end. The chapters are short, so I would do one at a time and then take short breaks. DO NOT allow yourself to strain your brain too much. The info will not stick as well as. At least that was my experience. I also kept a journal of sub-topics that I needed more practice with and supplemented my study of these problem areas with other sources, including this forum.

After completing all the books I had 6 days before the test. So, I re-took the diagnostic test and felt much better. Yes, I did remember a few of the answers, but I could still tell that I was more comfortable with the material. At this point I spend 4 days doing two practice tests per day on the computer. The MGMAT set comes with 6 and the GMATPrep has 2 (I think). I was once again disappointed with my confidence. The time element cannot be underestimated. It is a major stress factor. Practice is the key here. Do as many practice tests as possible. My scores for the practice test were in the 690-750 range. Now, after taking the test, I believe than the MGMAT tests are designed to be harder than the real test to "over prepare" you. Thats my opinion. I spent the last two days doing as many practice problems as I could find. The GMATClub iphone/ipad app has a lot of good problems, so I took that with me and did problems whenever I had a chance.

I took Nyquil on the night of the test. My head was so full of GMAT material that I was dreaming of prob/comb problems. I woke up, ate a good breakfast and headed to the test center. I was so ready to finish the test that I skipped all but one of my breaks. The test was exactly what I expected, thanks to the GMATPrep software. I seemed like it took and hour for it to compute my score (even though it was probably only 20 seconds). When the score popped up, I threw my arms in the air and almost shouted. The hard work had payed off and it felt great.

Moral of the story: studying for this grueling exam can be disheartening. Don't let it affect your study plan. Stick to your plan and don't underestimate the amount of work that it takes to get ready. This can be especially difficult at times.
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Re: Almost gave up studying... Ended up with a 770 (Q:49, V:48) [#permalink] New post 27 May 2011, 05:04
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Just in case anyone cares... I forgot to add my post-GMAT plans/actions. I applied to five MSF programs that I chose after spending hours and days comparing. I ended up choosing Tulane, Washington University in St. Louis, Boston College, Vanderbilt and LSE. I was offered admission to all five (which made my decision extremely difficult). In the end I chose Vanderbilt and will be starting the program with about 39 other students in August. I can't wait! Any other MSF hopefuls out there?
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Re: Almost gave up studying... Ended up with a 770 (Q:49, V:48) [#permalink] New post 26 May 2011, 14:06
wow fantastic score!!! Especially Verbal!! How was your verbal at the beginning? please shall some of your verbal tips!
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Re: Almost gave up studying... Ended up with a 770 (Q:49, V:48) [#permalink] New post 27 May 2011, 04:23
Awesome, yeah that's an epic Verbal score.

If you don't mind, were you scoring that high on verbal on the MGMAT and GMATPrep practice exams?
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Re: Almost gave up studying... Ended up with a 770 (Q:49, V:48) [#permalink] New post 27 May 2011, 04:40
Thanks! When I first took the OG diagnostic, I did rather poorly on the verbal section. But, after going through the study material, it actually came pretty naturally for me. I was raised in southern US, an area known for it's poor grammar and highly idiomatic language. So, I had to be careful to follow the "rules" rather than what sounded correct in the SC questions. The RC and CR questions seemed easier to me. My biggest piece of advice would be to find some study material that is GMAT specific. Normally a good book will teach you some of the "tricks" to watch out for in typical verbal questions. MGMAT has a section in each chapter of the type of choices you may find on the GMAT (the MGMAT SC book is especially good). So on test day, I was able to identify the tricky answer choices and rule them out. After ruling out answers you know to be wrong, you can spend your time on the one or two choices left over and save some time.

On the practice tests my verbal was in the 46-47 range mostly.
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Re: Almost gave up studying... Ended up with a 770 (Q:49, V:48) [#permalink] New post 27 May 2011, 08:15
Congratulations! Enjoy your amazing success! :)
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Re: Almost gave up studying... Ended up with a 770 (Q:49, V:48) [#permalink] New post 30 May 2011, 02:23
wow man that score is really impressive!
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Re: Almost gave up studying... Ended up with a 770 (Q:49, V:48) [#permalink] New post 30 May 2011, 05:39
Congrats on your awesome score and admits. Thanks a lot for the debrief.
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Re: Almost gave up studying... Ended up with a 770 (Q:49, V:48) [#permalink] New post 05 Jun 2011, 15:18
six weeks? man you must be a pretty smart guy ;) congrats, that's a terrific score and I'm not surprised you had your pick of schools.
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Re: Almost gave up studying... Ended up with a 770 (Q:49, V:48) [#permalink] New post 05 Jun 2011, 22:41
Awesome score!!! thats my target too
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Re: Almost gave up studying... Ended up with a 770 (Q:49, V:48) [#permalink] New post 06 Jun 2011, 06:04
so jealous
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Re: Almost gave up studying... Ended up with a 770 (Q:49, V:48) [#permalink] New post 08 Jun 2011, 06:21
To be clear, six weeks is not enough time to adequately prepare for the test. Once I had procrastinated away almost a month I got up one morning, counted the days left until the test and basically figured out how many pages of study material I needed to cover each day to make it through the MGMAT books. I probably devoted 150-160 hours to studying in 40 days (not including the quick practice questions on my phone that I did constantly). Having to rush the process sucks, so try to avoid that mistake.
Re: Almost gave up studying... Ended up with a 770 (Q:49, V:48)   [#permalink] 08 Jun 2011, 06:21
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