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Debrief: ~2 Weeks Went from 540-700. Thanks gmatclub

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What single resource do you feel increased your score the most?

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Debrief: ~2 Weeks Went from 540-700. Thanks gmatclub [#permalink]

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New post 02 Dec 2011, 08:17
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First and foremost, let me thank the community for all of the support that you have provided me over my past two weeks. I could not have achieved what I did as efficiently without you.

A Brief Synopsis

I am not innately gifted nor do I believe that I even possess above average intellect. For me, knowing that I had wasted the majority of time that could have been utilized studying for the exam, efficiency was of the utmost importance. The first question I asked myself was, “How could I go from knowing nothing about the exam to scoring in or around the top 90%ile?”

First things first, I needed to know where I stood. What did I do? I wasted one of my GMATPrep exams, I wanted to know where I stood and did not know of any other measure of accurately finding this out. Well ~4 hours after my commencement of the exam, I knew where I stood… A paltry 540. After this score, and finding out that it was nowhere near the top 90%ile I realized that going lone wolf on this journey would not make things easier for me.

I believe that the methodology that I pursued after the first exam is what allowed me to achieve a 120 point increase in such a short period of time. Pre-study Study in my opinion is the most important tool in finding out how to get where you need to be. For me pre-study study consisted of learning how to identify my weaknesses, discovering what tools to equip myself with before the exam, reading success stories and finding commonalities and discovering what type of studying would work for me. I will expand on this later.

After my pre-study study, it was down to the real work utilizing my Study Tools:

Day 1-4:

I crunched through the OG 12the Edition - YES EVERY SINGLE PROBLEM 10hrs or so of work each day including reviewing all problems that I had missed or guessed on.

Day 4-14:

I took an exam every single day and some days took two or more
sources used: 16 exams over 12 days
2005 Kaplan Premier GMAT CD – 6 exams
MGMAT 6 CAT exams
Kaplan 2011 Diagnostic
GMATPrep Version 1 Exam 2 (1 was my diagnostic)
GMATPrep Version 2 Exam 1,2

Day 14-17:

I repeated the GMATPrep exams in an effort to squeeze everything I could out of them.



Along every step of the way I analyzed my weaknesses and used study material that catered to my weaknesses. For instance I noticed that my reading comprehension was almost perfect, but my sentence correction as below average so I purchased the OGverbal Review

Although my Study Methods may seem a little unorthodox to a few of you, I knew I had little time and am very good at studying long hours with maintained focus. My typical day was not less than 8 hours of studying. One of the most important things that I will discuss in my study methods was reviewing guesses and weaknesses.

After seeing my scores trend up the few days prior to taking my exam I became aware that my scores relied more heavily on how well I performed in my weak areas, and how well I managed my time than anything else, the GMAT had become a game. Winning the GMAT Game was made easier by understanding its rules and nuances.

The day before my exam went as usual… I knew what my weaknesses were, how they had changed, and how they could still improve. I noticed that I had completely closed the gap between my RC and SC so, I focused a little on my CR. In Quant I needed work on a few areas, combinatorics, probability and specific rate problems. Knowing that some of these problems are more likely to appear than others, I studied that day, just like any other, primarily focusing on those questions which I could expect to see with greater frequency come game day.

The day of the exam…. well to me it was hell. I had not slept a wink of sleep before the exam. I kept thinking to myself “If only I had slept even an hour I would kill this exam!” Unfortunately that was not the case. Though tired, I knew that I had to perform. The exam did not care if I was sleepy, it wanted me to sing and dance regardless! With my preparation for beating this thing sleep deprivation did not bother me, I knew that I would be fine sleep or no sleep. My last words to the outside world were to my pops, “Exam in 45 minutes… I’m going to beast it!”

During the exam I kept telling myself that I was killing it… When all was said and done I walked away with a decent score. Although I did not get the score that I had wished for, my 700 was a long way away from where I started.

Breakdown: Stuff that really helped me!

I will shortly elaborate on some of the materials, thought processes and methodology that I used to increase my score.

Pre-study Study

As I stated before, I believe this was the most important step in the entire study process.

I took my first exam and gained a realistic idea of where I stood, in retrospect I believe it was good to take the GMATPrep first because of its accuracy.

I looked for tools online with specific questions in mind:
What scores do I need to get a 90%ile?
What are the best study tools?
By increasing the score in what area will I gain the most points on my final score?
How to increase SC scores?
How to increase an already high Quant?

I suggest that you do not get consumed in finding answers to everything. I used these questions to find a general answer or in some cases a definite answer, took that answer and implemented it into my study routine or developed a routine based on it.

Study Tools

OG 12th edition: A must have. This is a very fundamental book providing a basis for understanding what questions will be used on the exam, it will allow you to identify weaknesses and give you explanations on all of your solutions.

OG12th Quant Companion: Although I was already strong in math, this offered ways for me to view solutions in a different light. Often times the test makers would be better at finding a solution through answer crunching or picking number than I could do quantitatively.

OG2nd Edition Verbal Review: HUGE for me! This thing has 300 past GMAT questions and helped me work on my SC and CR amazingly well. I

Manhattan Advanced GMAT Quant: I am so-so on this.. If anything get it for the practice problems, they are very hard and will help you develop a strategy and execute it in a timely manner. The techniques are good if you have some time to add icing to the cake. I prefer robust algebraic computations over logical solutions such as, picking numbers, using smart numbers and using answer choices. This book would be an excellent companion when you are done with all your studying and want to gain the edge by learning how to guess/manipulate problems. 150+ Excellent difficult questions.

Online resources:
GMATClub Duh!
MGMAT Website

Study Methods

I kept this very simple. This is what I did and is the actual outline of what I put together as I was studying.

1. Identify weaknesses and where I stand

Diagnostic first Exam – GMATPrep
Completion of OG12th edition
From here I had a pretty comprehensive idea of my weaknesses!


Attack weakest areas first!

Understand why I am choosing the wrong answer on weaknesses and using the solutions and explanations establish sound reasoning as to why the correct answer is correct!

Focus study on weakest areas, but constantly reassess what areas are your weakest areas. Remember that a point increase in verbal will raise your overall score more than a point increase in quant.

3. Exam Practice: Treat every problem like you are on question #30 of the exam!

Not literally that number. What I mean is that TIMING is your most valuable study asset. Gain a 2 minute and 1 minute sense. For EVERY problem that you sit down with know that you need to comprehend what is being asked in a reasonable amount of time and come up with a plan for execution.

TAKE PROBLEM SETS TIMED never allotting more than 2 minutes per question!
General rule of thumb that I used:
Quant: know where you are going to go in the first 30-45 seconds. Execute plan in 1-1:15min
Verbal: SC – 1:30min, RC ~ 2:15-2:30min, CR ~1:45-2:min

4. Review is different from exam practice

After you have attempted problems sets, exams, etc. you can lift the 2 minute rule.. Understand the problems. Working timed is great for increasing score, but it is also very important to understand why you get problems correct and if you get them wrong how to get them correct. Use review to identify patterns in problems, ways to solve problems and the general question being asked.
Review is where knowledge is gained. I recommend at least 2 hours review for every 1 hour of exam practice.

5. Lots of CATs!

No, I don’t mean become the cat lady! I think that the best way to learn from the exam is to take it… over, and over, and over. BUT! remember you are not just taking these exams for a score. They will help with your timing and allow you to identify weaknesses. It is what you do with the knowledge you gain from these exams that matters. For me, I would take an exam, REVIEW every problem that I got incorrect or felt I guessed on and work on my weaknesses in each exam through exam practice.

Winning the GMAT Game

The GMAT is a game. You win by controlling to the best of your ability the few variables that you can: timing, breadth of knowledge, areas of expertise, guessing readiness, pressure management.

For example, on my night before my exam, I did not sleep… but, I was prepared. I made sure that as a part of my study, twice, I took a CAT when I was on the brink of falling asleep. Although this may seem unorthodox, I wanted to strengthen my ability to deal with this pressure in the event that it become a reality come game day.


Easy Peasy! Take the GMATPrep once to find out where you are. This leaves you with three unique exams to take before your exam.

The GMATPrep… IS THE GMAT. Simple as that. It is almost identical in terms of difficulty and question selection. I encourage you to utilize this to its fullest! Take the thing until you don’t see any more new questions.. this means intentionally getting questions wrong so that you get practice with lower level questions as well. This combined with explanations on this forum are the BEST sources out there!

Had I the time, I would have focused much more on this in the days leading up to my exam! I think it can realistically boost your score 20+(being very conservative) points just by going through all the questions.

I generally do not post on forums, as I prefer to read, but you guys are great! You provided me a lot of knowledge that will help me in my future and I want to return the favor. I worked my score up 120 points in a little over two weeks and can attribute a lot of this to the expertise in this forum.

Please don’t take anything that I have written to be absolute, what worked for me may not work for you. I hope I at least help you out a little.

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Re: Debrief: ~2 Weeks Went from 540-700. Thanks gmatclub [#permalink]

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New post 04 Dec 2011, 02:39
congrats- that's amazing but I dont think most ppl could pull tht off-Kudos to u
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Re: Debrief: ~2 Weeks Went from 540-700. Thanks gmatclub [#permalink]

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New post 04 Dec 2011, 23:09
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Wow, congratulations. One impressive post and debrief.

Was the MBA a last minute thought or why only 17 days? (or you just felt ready?)

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Re: Debrief: ~2 Weeks Went from 540-700. Thanks gmatclub [#permalink]

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New post 05 Dec 2011, 02:21
congratulation .. very interesting brief
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Re: Debrief: ~2 Weeks Went from 540-700. Thanks gmatclub [#permalink]

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New post 05 Dec 2011, 11:24

Day 4-14:

I took an exam every single day and some days took two or more
sources used: 16 exams over 12 days
2005 Kaplan Premier GMAT CD – 6 exams
MGMAT 6 CAT exams
Kaplan 2011 Diagnostic
GMATPrep Version 1 Exam 2 (1 was my diagnostic)
GMATPrep Version 2 Exam 1,2

Day 14-17:

I repeated the GMATPrep exams in an effort to squeeze everything I could out of them.

16 mocks over 12 days......That is awesome....+ 10HRs of study........Your name should be gmat super human robot.... ready for R2....

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Re: Debrief: ~2 Weeks Went from 540-700. Thanks gmatclub [#permalink]

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New post 12 Dec 2011, 23:33
Great post, it's good to see that some people manage to pull of intensive time-crunch strategies!
Re: Debrief: ~2 Weeks Went from 540-700. Thanks gmatclub   [#permalink] 12 Dec 2011, 23:33
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Debrief: ~2 Weeks Went from 540-700. Thanks gmatclub

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