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Debrief - 770 (Q51, V44)

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Debrief - 770 (Q51, V44) [#permalink] New post 06 Oct 2011, 21:18
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I am posting this here for the benefit of other forum members. The post is adopted from my blog shekmba dot blogspot dot com

I hope it helps some of you

-----------------------------------------------------

Always found the term funny used in this context.

This post is to simply to recount my experience this morning with the GMAT.

I had a an early morning appointment at 8:30 AM. The test center was far so I left @ 7:00 AM to reach at 8:00 AM. Unfortunately, I had a restlessness night and did not sleep too well - don't know why. The effects were going to manifest themselves later. The center was closed even at 8 AM and almost all the test takers were already present. The proctors arrived soon enough and let each one of us in one after another with the usual routine.


I settled down at my desk and went through all the tutorials, selected my schools etc. Then came the AWA Argument prompt. The prompt was easy and I was able to comfortably finish it. The keyboard, however, was not up to the mark and slowed my typing down; No worries though. Next was the issue prompt. It seemed easy enough and I started typing after noting down the possible reasons. When I completed my 2nd para it struck me that I had misinterpreted the prompt and was writing in a completely different direct. For e.g., if the prompt was "X is causing Y and Z", I misinterpreted it as "Y and Z are happening; Is it harmful or not?" when it really meant "X is causing Y and Z; Yes or No?" - Sheesh!. By the time I realized this, I had 17 minutes left on the clock - panic ensued. All my points were shot; I had to rework the first paragraph; Rework the 2nd paragraph and quickly write the rest. I managed to finish everything in time but it still felt short of a great essay. Of course, by itself the AWA doesn't mean much but what is important is its aftereffects.

The AWA left me in a frazzled state of mind. This coupled with a lack of sleep the previous night meant that I was not in the best of mental conditions. Its effects were evident as soon as I started my Quant section. The first question was a simple algebraic one but I took 5 minutes to complete it. Normally I would have done this in 0.5 minutes, not 5 minutes. I made one silly mistake after another. The second question was quite tough and I took another 5 minutes on it. I was now really panicking. The two questions really shook me up and I concentrated much harder on the next questions. However my game picked up only after the 15th question or so. I think I pretty much answered every question correct after that. Towards the end the questions were easy and I really wondered whether I had messed up resulting in easy questions. In the end, ironically enough, I finished my Quant section with 17 minutes left. The irony was killing.

I was still shaken and believed that I had messed it up. I knew that this will affect my Verbal section adversely so decided to calm myself down in the extra time. I told myself that it is not the end of the world and even I did screw up the Quant section I must make it up in the Verbal section; I simply could not afford to take the test another time or live with a low score. I calmed myself took the break and came back ready to attack the Verbal section. I started off quite well until I was hit with the first RC. It was a short and tough RC. Managed to finish it and move on. Overall I did well and finished just in time.

It was time for the experimental section. I was curious to see what it would be like. The questions were refreshing and section quite interesting overall. The takers of the new format will have a good time ;). There were 12 questions to be answered in 30 minutes. I did 6 of them seriously and then started giving up. I was anxious to see my scores. I guessed the rest and moved on. Quickly chose to report my score and just get it over with. Was overjoyed and surprised at the score !

Even though I got a high score, I was shaken by how much effect the lack of sleep had on my state of mind and performance. It could have really messed up my score. I think what saved me was the huge amount of practice I had put in and the fact that I am used to taking tests with little sleep. In my undergraduate days, I had taken tests with no sleep the night before !

Key lessons:
1. Getting good sleep the night before is critical. Do what you need to but get good sleep.
2. Ready the AWA prompts carefully.
3. Practice a lot. Even if you have become good at answering well, practice. It will do you a world of good during the test when faced with stressful situations. The practice will kick in and take over. You will be on autopilot the rest of the way.
4. Even when faced with tough questions, move on with determination. GMAT will reward you for this.
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Re: Debrief - 770 (Q51, V44) [#permalink] New post 07 Oct 2011, 07:26
Thanks for sharing this ... and congrats for the great score !!
Can you share you experience on the verbal part esp. RC bit- the level of questions & similarity of the passages to that of OG12 ? how close was the SC in comparison to the OG12 questions...
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Re: Debrief - 770 (Q51, V44) [#permalink] New post 07 Oct 2011, 08:26
Congrats:) can you please share more details on the resources which you used for your preperation and more on SC .Thanks
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Please click Kudos ,if my post helped you ;)

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Re: Debrief - 770 (Q51, V44) [#permalink] New post 07 Oct 2011, 15:01
great score. Best of luck with all the apps.
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Re: Debrief - 770 (Q51, V44) [#permalink] New post 07 Oct 2011, 17:36
amazing score! did you come across any idioms in sc? or are they all gone?:)
all the best for the apps!
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Re: Debrief - 770 (Q51, V44) [#permalink] New post 07 Oct 2011, 18:13
gmatcracker24 wrote:
Congrats:) can you please share more details on the resources which you used for your preperation and more on SC .Thanks


This is again from my blog shekmba dot blogspot dot com . I hope it helps.

--------------------------------------------
GMAT Strategy
I have been meaning to write this for a while now and I also owe it to some people.

Step 1 - Diagnostic Test
Before doing anything, take the diagnostic test. I know that most people say this, but I digress as follows:

If you have been out of touch with academics for some years now (which I suspect is the case with most people) practice 20 problems from each section with some light revision of the concepts. Take the test after you have completed all the problems. This way, your diagnostic test will give you a true "diagnostic" score and tell you where you truly stand before preparations start full swing. My theory is that if you take the diagnostic test straight off the bat you might get an unusually low score because you didn't remember some silly concept which could be obtained by simply glancing at it.

So my advise would be as above when it comes to diagnostic tests so you are not stressed unnecessarily.

Once you take the diagnostic test, you know where you stand and then you can determine how many weeks of prep is necessary. I got a 690 on my diagnostic and after 8 weeks of prep my score was 770.

It is silly to get hung up on just the score. You must make sure you analyze the test thoroughly to identify you area of weak points. If possible, record them in the GMAT scoring sheet freely available on beatthegmat, testmagic or gmatclub. Also make sure you record whether wrong answers were due to silly errors or concept errors.

Step 2 - Books & Resources
Upon taking the diagnostic test and identifying the weak areas, buy the books which you need. I used the following books:

Quants
OG12
Manhattan Series
Kaplan
OG Quant Review

Verbal
OG12
Manhattan SC, CR Guide
Kaplan
OG Verbal Review

I really recommend MGMAT guides for all the sections. Its effectiveness in the SC section is well known but I found that for the Quant section too it is of immense help. It really drives in the concepts in a simple, GMAT focused way. In order to do well in Quants it is a must that you are fundamental concepts are rock solid before you start practicing like crazy. See my more detailed post here.

OG12 is of course great for practice. So is Kaplan. OG Quant guide is very simple and not worth wasting money on. OG Verbal guide in contrast has good questions to practice with.

Besides books, there are several online resources:

Beat The GMAT Questions
Test Magic Questions

However, I did not use the online resources except the occasional snippet of information.

Step 3 - Study Schedule
After buying the books and identifying the resources, set up a schedule for yourself.

Oh, meanwhile, please do set a test date for motivation. Without a test date you are doomed. Period.

The most popular strategy seems to be to spend 2 weeks on a weak section, 1 week on strong section etc. I beg to differ. I believe the better strategy is:

0. Start cycle
1. Pick up a section (not completed in this cycle)
2. Run through the concepts
3. Practice problems (partial set if you want to)
4. Identify weak areas
5. Go to step 1 with another section (if all sections not completed else go to Step 6)
6. Take a test and analyze
7. Go to step 0.

Yes, there are several gaping holes in the "algorithm" but you get the idea. My first cycle lasteed about 30 days (6 days for each section). 2nd cycle lasted 15 days, 3rd - 9 days and last - 5 days. All approximations. This way you can go on identifying weak areas and strong areas and keep allocating time and resources accordingly. It makes for a more targeted and efficient preparation.

The length of each cycle can expand and contract based on the need to catch up on concepts etc.

Go through the MGMAT SC book at least 2 times and make sure you do the advanced section - It seems tough at first but you warm up to it.

Step 4 - Take the test
And finally take the test. Make sure you rest well before the test. I don't know if it is ok to not practice one day before the exam or not but make sure you rest well. See my debrief for better understanding,

I know this is not a lot of advice; However, there is tons of good advice out there on usual things and I want to contribute in a way which will add to everything else.
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Re: Debrief - 770 (Q51, V44) [#permalink] New post 07 Oct 2011, 18:15
yogesh1984 wrote:
Thanks for sharing this ... and congrats for the great score !!
Can you share you experience on the verbal part esp. RC bit- the level of questions & similarity of the passages to that of OG12 ? how close was the SC in comparison to the OG12 questions...


I would say RC was quite tough compared to the OG12 questions. During my practice, I never struggled with RC and it was in fact my strong suite. However, I really struggled with RC during the actual test.

SC was quite close to the questions in OG 12. So was CR.

The funny thing is that you start off your GMAT prep with SC and if you do it properly, it becomes your strength. You start struggling in CR and RC !
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Re: Debrief - 770 (Q51, V44) [#permalink] New post 07 Oct 2011, 18:20
icaniwill wrote:
Congrats on your amazing score.
Can you let us know, how you created a schedule for your prep and how you managed to stick to it?


I would say the most important step you can take for your GMAT is actually registering for a date and then make it a do or die situation. You simply should not give yourself an option to change the dates. If thoughts of changing date enter your mind, you are pretty much finished.

Once you have set a date in stone, creating a schedule and sticking to it is not too difficult. I in fact advance my date by 15 days when I felt I was reaching my peak.

I would like to write more about this and I hate to seem like plugging my blog here, but I have written extensively on these topics in my blog shekmba blogspot com. However, if you have more questions about my strategy or thought process, I would love to answer them here.
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Re: Debrief - 770 (Q51, V44) [#permalink] New post 07 Oct 2011, 18:22
York101 wrote:
amazing score! did you come across any idioms in sc? or are they all gone?:)
all the best for the apps!


I really don't remember now. My test was on 4th August and it seems like a distant memory now, what with essays et al !

However, I don't think you get questions purely based on idioms. It's always a mix of concepts which you need to tackle in SC. So for each SC questions, there are 2-4 concepts which are mixed in. This in fact makes it easier for you to spot the correct answer!
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Re: Debrief - 770 (Q51, V44) [#permalink] New post 07 Oct 2011, 22:08
shekmba wrote:
yogesh1984 wrote:
Thanks for sharing this ... and congrats for the great score !!
Can you share you experience on the verbal part esp. RC bit- the level of questions & similarity of the passages to that of OG12 ? how close was the SC in comparison to the OG12 questions...


I would say RC was quite tough compared to the OG12 questions. During my practice, I never struggled with RC and it was in fact my strong suite. However, I really struggled with RC during the actual test.

SC was quite close to the questions in OG 12. So was CR.

The funny thing is that you start off your GMAT prep with SC and if you do it properly, it becomes your strength. You start struggling in CR and RC !


Thanks for replying :), Just one more bit - On RC you said it was a bit tougher. Can you be little elaborate on that part- as in did you feel the overall passages were lengthy, worded weirdly or plain complex in nature... or you feel questions were little tricky ...

Thanks..
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Re: Debrief - 770 (Q51, V44) [#permalink] New post 07 Oct 2011, 23:36
yogesh1984 wrote:
Thanks for replying :), Just one more bit - On RC you said it was a bit tougher. Can you be little elaborate on that part- as in did you feel the overall passages were lengthy, worded weirdly or plain complex in nature... or you feel questions were little tricky ...

Thanks..


Worded weirdly and complex.

However, I had not slept well the night before, so it could have affected my abilities! :D
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Re: Debrief - 770 (Q51, V44) [#permalink] New post 08 Oct 2011, 01:52
shekmba wrote:
yogesh1984 wrote:
Thanks for replying :), Just one more bit - On RC you said it was a bit tougher. Can you be little elaborate on that part- as in did you feel the overall passages were lengthy, worded weirdly or plain complex in nature... or you feel questions were little tricky ...

Thanks..


Worded weirdly and complex.

However, I had not slept well the night before, so it could have affected my abilities! :D


Aah I see... between what else you would have wanted, hain jee :lol:
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Re: Debrief - 770 (Q51, V44) [#permalink] New post 08 Oct 2011, 03:49
yogesh1984 wrote:
Aah I see... between what else you would have wanted, hain jee :lol:


Didn't get you man.. sorry..
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Re: Debrief - 770 (Q51, V44) [#permalink] New post 08 Oct 2011, 03:52
shekmba wrote:
yogesh1984 wrote:
Aah I see... between what else you would have wanted, hain jee (a slang) :lol:


Didn't get you man.. sorry..


That was just leg pulling buddy (as if you did so badly on the test!) ....
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Re: Debrief - 770 (Q51, V44) [#permalink] New post 08 Oct 2011, 13:08
amazing score mate!! you nailed it
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Re: Debrief - 770 (Q51, V44) [#permalink] New post 08 Oct 2011, 20:02
icaniwill wrote:
Thanks for your reply. That definitely makes sense to me. I haven't set a date and the preparation is taking a backseat on certain days due to other priorities (family, job,..). I will revise the schedule and set a date immediately.

I went through your blog. Your post about using "Khan Academy" site for studying some specific concepts is really helpful. I didn't know about that site prior and it is a very good site that saves time for me in place of going to textbooks. Thank you.

I was looking for any post specific to how you tracked your errors during practice and review -- and how you prepared i.e. material for the highest level Qs


Yes, Khan Academy is really amazing. It is the absolute future of education.

I did not track my errors in a very systematic manner. After each practice session I would simply note down the broad areas which I needed to work on and then study/revise concepts further in those areas. I did use the excel sheets from these forums to keep track of my success rate after each practice session. As far as material is concerned, I used really regular material and maybe it was luck that got me a good score. However, I do highly recommend MGMAT books and practice tests. MGMAT study material really grounds you in the concepts. The only guide which I disapproved of was CR but I am sure it's a personal thing.

Beyond the materials, I really feel GMAT is a lot about conditioning your mind. It really tests your emotional maturity at some level. You must have a strong will power and total control over your emotions. My score would not have been possible if I had lost control over myself after spending 10 min over the first two questions!

I was absolutely determined that that was the only time I would give the test and this notion kept me going.

Hope that helped !
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Re: Debrief - 770 (Q51, V44) [#permalink] New post 08 Oct 2011, 20:04
samramandy wrote:
amazing score mate!! you nailed it


Thanks man !
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Re: Debrief - 770 (Q51, V44) [#permalink] New post 08 Oct 2011, 23:48
awesome score :)
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Re: Debrief - 770 (Q51, V44) [#permalink] New post 09 Oct 2011, 04:53
I wish I wiil do as you)
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Re: Debrief - 770 (Q51, V44) [#permalink] New post 09 Oct 2011, 19:14
estel wrote:
nice grade and great strategy.


Thanks estel.
Re: Debrief - 770 (Q51, V44)   [#permalink] 09 Oct 2011, 19:14
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