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Debrief: 690 (Q49 V35,5.5 AWA ): Not bad for a 1st try

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Joined: 25 Jul 2010
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Concentration: Finance
Schools: Cornell (Johnson) - Class of 2014
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Debrief: 690 (Q49 V35,5.5 AWA ): Not bad for a 1st try [#permalink] New post 25 Dec 2010, 14:43
Edit: Allow me to apologize for the long narrative ahead, i didnt realize it was this long until i was done. Im a man of few words in person but i guess in typing im quite longwinded (or whatever the typing equivalent of longwinded is). Well anyways...sorry

Merry Christmas All:

I took the test thursday 12/23, Sorry for the delay i have been running around and havent had time to sit down and debrief. Ive been on the go constantly and traveling across country home for the holidays from the time i finished up 3:30 on thursday until right now at about 4 pm EST on christmas day, so here it is:


Not happy because i was shooting for ~730-740 but not too down on myself, this was where i was scoring on my practice CATs right up until the exam so glad i am at what is my capability as of this point. I began initially studying in July, heres the link to my first post describing my plan,

I feel like i stuck to the script, aside from number 4. (And that i didnt keep up with posting updates on my progress). It was a very difficult process so far especially with my girlfriend. It has been extremely tough to keep juggling work, GMATs, and a relationship, my advice to anyone with a significant other at this time would be to talk through thoroughly with them about your plans and goals and make sure they are on board. AS most of us on here know the GMATs can be extremely trying on ones social life. Communication was crucial in preserving our relationship through this time.


As for my prep it mostly consisted of material from the Manhattan GMAT in class course. From the date of my first post above i had casually studied with the Princetin Review book. I know most on here have no use for that one, and i agree for the most part in that it is no substitute for the OG and is not a fraction as thorough as manhattan and some of the other strategy guides. However, i think it can be useful to someone just beginning his or her GMAT studies, as a "primer" if you will, to ease you into the GMAT material. This of course is if you have a lot of time to study (more than 3-4 months i suggest).

The manhattan class was very beneficial, and to me was totally worth the money. My instructor was upbeat and kept students involved, and didnt just teach out of the book, something i was afraid of going in but was pleased to find out wasnt the case. It seemed like every class there was some tidbit or useful approach about the exam he shared that i wouldnt have found in the book. I will provide a more in depth review of my manhattan course at a later date and on another board, but i will say if you have the money it is definitely worth the investment.

After the class finished i went through the advanced sections of the manhattan books and went through the problems associated with them. This took me to about 3 weeks before my test date. From then on I focused strictly on working on Official Problems (OG12 Math and Verbal 2nd ed.) and CAT exams. Among these 3 books is a huge selection of problems, enough for plenty of review. I would study 40 SCs every day timed, id do five from each of the 8 main topics outlined in the manhattan guide, with the remaining misc. problems id insert randomly. In addition to that i would alternate between quant and verbal, one day i would do 5 RC passages, which amounted to about 25-30 problems. The next I would do 40 Quant probs distributing among the subtypes and in order of the book. The next I would do about 30-40 CRs and so on, so forth. I would study 3-4 hours/day during the week and 6-7 per day on the wknd. I found doing SC problems timed a little everyday really helped me a lot with SC. I saw progress very quickly doing this as i would see my hit rate increase even as i was moving in order to harder problems.

As for AWA, i really didnt study or prepare much for it at all. During the 9-week course my instructor spent, LITERALLY, 15 mins on the subject, it was during the closing minutes of one of the last classes. He emphasized that it wasnt a big deal, and pretty much just said "don't get a 1" and if we dont do that we'll be fine, and that we have time to prove our writing ability on our essays/apps. I laughed when i heard this, though i was a bit unsettled by it. During his review he spoke out a template, similar to chineseburned but not nearly as in-depth.

Practice CATs

I took 10 CATs total, not counting one PR CAT before i started the manhattan course. That one was a 670 i took untimed so i didnt put too much stock into it. I also took my first 3 MGMAT CATs untimed so i could familiarize myself with the content. Looking back i should have taken them timed after the 1st one.

MGMAT #1: 660 Q47 V33 untimed
MGMAT #2: 650 Q44 V35 also untimed, was not pleased with my lower quant
MGMAT #3: 700 Q49 V36 untimed but feeling better, showing progress and didnt take much longer than standard time
The lat 3 MGMATs i took timed, and were after i finished the live course.
MGMAT#4: 680 (Q48 V35) pretty pleased with myself
MGMAT#5: 740 (Q47 V44) WOW!!! I almost fell out of my chair when i saw this because i wasnt expecting a score that good. I though i had arrived, all i had to do now was keep at this point and ill be right where i want to be.
MGMAT#6: 690 (Q43 V40) Crashing back down to earth. Really upset with my quant, thats my bread and butter, though still pleased with my verbal, i was shooting for Q50 V40, and this was a week before the real thing so i wanted to sure up my quant and maintain my verbal.

MY GMATPrep CATs I was alternating with my GMAT CATs, i would take a MGMAT on wed or thurs and review and take the GMAT Prep on Sat or sunday. I took four of these (2 from last year and 2 this year) with few repeats, though on the last year CATs i was some of the problems in the OG12.

GMATPrep #1: 650 (Q49 V30) didnt finish the verbal section and didnt get to the last 3 questions, i saw that it was timed but thought there wouldve been overtime since it was a practice test. Now i know better. I was pleased with this one because i thought my math was right where i wanted and my quant score was killed, i figured if i guessed the last few it would have been much higher, maybe close to if not over 700.

GMATPrep #2: 680 (Q48 V35) ?? I think that was the split i dont remember for sure, but that was the score.
GMATPrep #3: 700 (Q48 V38) Felt good but thought i scored higher, i was less than a week out at this point and wanted to be in the 720+ range.
GMATPrep #4: 690 (Q49 V36) 2 days out Verbal still not where i want it.

After these CATs i just continued on my regular routine and did 2 GMATclub Quant Tests. I scored 28 and 29 out of 37 on those respectively. It was amazing to see that was only about 50%-ile around here, you guys are monsters. Also the night before i went over chineseburned's AWA template and wrote out an essay using it.

Test Day

Test was at 12, woke up around 7 ate some cereal did my 40SCs and checked them, did the 2nd of those GMAT Club Tests mentioned above. Made some eggs and toast. Wrote out the essay template on index cards and tried to memorize them. Left the house around 1045, picked up a powerade and a snickers bar amped myself up during the drive and got to the test site around 1110. Sat in the car and looked over my index cards. Went in at 1130 signed in put my stuff away and got to it.


Honestly, I really didnt care about the essays at all. As i type this im a little upset at myself for saying that, but its the honest truth. It might have been my instructors voice echoing in my head, but i really didnt care. At this time all i cared about was destroying that test. The Math and Verbal were the Main event and the AWA merely the undercard. the argument essay was about using computers in the classroom as a learning tool, and the other one i dont even remember. I thought they were fairly well written, but i wouldnt have cared even if they werent, and finished and proofread each with about 5 mins to spare


I finished the second essay and ran out to the bathroom. Took a leak and came back (and yes i did wash my hands) drank literally 2 sips of powerade and a bite of snickers and went back in


Felt pretty good going through, I was worried during some points that I was seeing questions i thought were to easy, but just told myself they were the experimentals and moved on. Saw one tough probability/combinatorics and 2 fairly tough Geometry probs, seing these eased my concerns a bit. Overall i thought quant went well, i did my best to make sure i wasnt overlooking anything, especially in DS (ie. possibilities of 1 and 0, etc.) and i couldnt think of many problems i could have gotten wrong. I do think i guessed on the last question after eliminating 2 choices.


This is where my day takes a turn. Throughout my practice and prep i used the replica test booklet, whenever i did a CAT after i finished quant i would wash my notepad and write ABCDE vertically 5 times across each page horizontally. I use POE for just about all of my Verbal problems and this was a strategy my GMAT instructor told me, and i figured i could use on the test. Now when i finished quant i put my hand to get another booklet and use the break to do this and get my mind right for verbal. I quickly stepped to the proctors desk and got another booklet, i then went to my table to start setting up my notepad. Just as i start to do this the front desk lady, not the actual proctor is over my shoulder signing me back in. i look up at her to tell her i dont want to start yet, but at that point i was already signed in. I glance over and see the 1 minute timer counting down. I look at her and im like "But.. but.." trying to convey that i didnt want to start yet and she told me once im in here i have to be testing. I just wish i knew this beforehand and if i could have set up my pad during my break period. But anyways there was about 30 seconds left until the section started, so i panicked and rushed to set up about 3 pages before the first question popped up.


The 1st question an SC that felt tough. I made sure i took my time on this one before moving on, in my prep i would get one SC wrong in the 1st 3 questions and i feel that is what has been keeping me from getting V40. The first couple after that seemed to go well. One problem i feel is that i cant tell the difference between a medium and a hard SC, so i dont know how im doing as i go along. Then came some CRs which i knew were pretty difficult but got through in a timely fashion. The RCs were pretty easy and i think i have gotten pretty good with RCs based on my prep. I dont remember what most of them were about, but one was economically based and dealt with a calculation of GDP or something. I was stressed early on in the section because of what happened during the break and tried to calm myself down throughout. I also had to use a couple seconds setting up my pas as i went. Im hoping this didnt cost me some points in the end. I thought it went ok despite of that however. I ended up finishing with about a minute or so left.

Score Retreval

I clicked through the questions afterwards and when i finished the last one, i put my head in my hands and took a few seconds before i looked up. I just wanted to see that 7 in front of my score. I looked up and saw 6... (AWWWW Damn!!)...90 (oh...ok ::shrug::) not so bad. Even though i plan on taking it again shooting for that 750, im pleased with my score. It was where i was at the end of my prep so i know thats my ability, and i just need to improve on my ability and perform to it next time to get the score i want/need. I was a little unsettled to see a my Verbal was at 73%-ile, i need to pull that up to at least 80 and a 690 was only an 88%-ile, meaning %11-12 of gmat takers are getting 700 or higher, the competition is getting tougher!!

Afterwards i called my girl, who was a little upset that im gonna take it again and thus be studying, and told my parents who were really happy for me.

All in all it was a good experience, and im cool with the fact that i have to take it again, Im gonna give knewton and their 50 point guarantee a try and see if that gets me there. Id like to thank MisterEko, during the days leading up to the exam yours words of confidence really helped down the stretch.

If anyone is still reading at this point thank you for your patience, and congratulations you can now master any RC problem. Wow this took me almost 2 hours to write, time for xmas dinner. I look forward to reading any comments, questions, or complaints for my painfully long narrative. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Last edited by johnnyGMAT2k10 on 03 Jan 2011, 17:59, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Debrief: 690 (Q49 V35): Not bad for a 1st try (Long, sry) [#permalink] New post 25 Dec 2010, 15:23
Hey man, good job! 690 is a good score, but I feel we both underperformed. Me in Q, you in V. I think if we took the exam again today, we would score 700. Too bad we can't take it so soon. I've got no choice but to go ahead and apply with this score...

[highlight]Monster collection of Verbal questions (RC, CR, and SC)[/highlight]

[highlight]Massive collection of thousands of Data Sufficiency and Problem Solving questions and answers:[/highlight]

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Re: Debrief: 690 (Q49 V35): Not bad for a 1st try (Long, sry) [#permalink] New post 25 Dec 2010, 15:31
Expert's post
I think it was just the stress of the day, since both of you were doing well in your practice exams. Good luck :)
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Re: Debrief: 690 (Q49 V35): Not bad for a 1st try (Long, sry) [#permalink] New post 26 Dec 2010, 02:14
Still a very good score though. I am sure you will get your dream score next time. It might have been stress as previously mentioned. Argh, fracking stress when you hold us!

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Senior Manager
Senior Manager
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Joined: 25 Jul 2010
Posts: 279
Location: United States
Concentration: Finance
Schools: Cornell (Johnson) - Class of 2014
WE: Engineering (Telecommunications)
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Re: Debrief: 690 (Q49 V35): Not bad for a 1st try (Long, sry) [#permalink] New post 03 Jan 2011, 17:58
Just got back from the holidays and received by score report today. 5.5 AWA

I was pretty shocked when i saw this since i hardly prepared for the essays at all. Honestly I would have been less shocked with a 4.0, but i guess i got lucky this time
Re: Debrief: 690 (Q49 V35): Not bad for a 1st try (Long, sry)   [#permalink] 03 Jan 2011, 17:58
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Debrief: 690 (Q49 V35,5.5 AWA ): Not bad for a 1st try

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