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# 540->680->730- Have patience and confidence, it shall pay!

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Senior Manager
Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 282
Concentration: Strategy, General Management
GMAT 1: 680 Q49 V34
GMAT 2: 730 Q49 V41
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540->680->730- Have patience and confidence, it shall pay! [#permalink]

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04 Jun 2011, 12:25
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Detailed debrief on recent attempt is few post down ...
Quick recap/update- Started somewhere in Nov 2010, with 3-4 week of prep gave my Gmat prep & I got 540 (Q32 (not sure exactly though), V19), then rescheduled the exam date from Jan end to 30th May 2011 and settled for a 680 (was hoping for 700+) (Q49, V34), AWA- 4.5 heck after a long wait gave the test again on 24th Apr and I think I am done with Gmat- 730(Q49, V41, AWA- waiting)

Old post-
Though not a great score to brag about (neither I am satisfied with my score esp. Verbal, and I don't think why I can not improve my Quant as well) but going through all this prep has been a good learning experience all together that I will try to share so that may be someone of you would benefit at least and may be not repeat what I could have avoided.

First of all, let me thanks all of you for being so helpful and passionate in helping out one other... but I must name Bunuel for his killer instincts on Maths forum esp. (when I started way back in dec-jan and saw the questions in Bunuel's signature I was encouraged to solve those as I find them a good catalyst for my neurons but again since I was off from books for long so I would stuck even on small things (pretty bad feeling man considering I am from maths background and having done my grad+pg in stats, maths).So I thought dude you need to go back to books and clear the basics and the rest is just the story.

I have got very interesting & sort of unique story to tell about- Started my GMAT journey in last Nov-Dec & thought that with little to moderate attention I should be able to get a decent score (700+) but guess I was misled in my assumption, which I could realize only after taking my first mock test with GMAT prep. All hell broke - got a 540 on the first attempt (sorry guys do not remember Q, V break up but hell who wants to remember that sort of score yuk (yeah exactly same feeling I had for myself) ) and I could not believe that I could do so badly at least in quant (finally my roommate and friend came to rescue me from that sad state of affairs of mine and suggested me that because we are off from college for long (about 4+ years) you may need to brush up your basics and hell yeah how right he was! so lesson no. 1 for me was here even if you have studied whole life maths & were genius in school you may falter later simply because of being out of touch. I could pull together myself in coming 1-2 weeks of time and since I had scheduled my exam on 27th Jan I had realized by now that it was not so easy as I had assumed earlier so rescheduled exam for 30th may.

I am in bank consulting job & it's a very demanding one (it hardy gives me any time after work, on avg I have 12-13 hr long day including 2-3 hr travel). So I thought I have to utilize my travel time some how, so I could solve 20-25 questions from 1K series (SC/CR) & check the answers verify the reasons for right/wrong in office (don't wanna try but what to do ) or next weekend (if office work does not permit, which was the case maximum times). Although it was distracting to concentrate on questions while using public transport (I don't know much about western countries but here in India we have much overloaded public facilities for the some secret reasons ) but it gave me some breather because of time crunch in the weekdays. Then on weekend almost I locked up myself (mainly due to long revisions on verbal part- took lot of time for me).
So in some I followed about 1-2 hours on weekdays and about 4-6 hours on weekends for little more than 3 months (so roughly @250 hours). you could take less or more depending on your comfort level with basics- for me I took lot of time in going over basics on verbal part. After rescheduling my test date to May 30th I went through lot of research on how to do make a better study plan & attack each section separately- So I decided to start of with CR (Powerscore CR bible is very nice book for this) because it also add value to you RC section. In about 3-4 weeks I was doing able solve most difficult one's. Then I thought I should focus my energy on SC (which is a weak point for many if not all and sundry!, MGMAT SC is indisputable leader here). I could develop an eye for a right answer after 4-5 weeks of rigor. but I guess I lost the touch with CR (all credit goes to my overconfidence that I have mastered CR, though I tried to catch up later but then it was too late!). For RC I went with OG12 and MGMAT RC (not a great resource but good to go over for practice).

Later mock experience (just before exams)- These mocks were no less than a horror show for me given that I took these tests just few days before my D day (mainly because my lack of confidence that I've covered everything needed for test).

My first mock on 2nd may (GMAT prep, remember I had taken long back in December so almost had nothing to remember from that)- 640 (Q47, V31), said to myself not bad I have some 3-4 weeks to go I can manage to up the score.

Second mock (GMAT prep, 26th may)- 580 (Q44, V25) Gosh! what the hell I was like what do I do now . I am just standing 3 days away from actual D day and I am no better than from where I started 3 months back. Result was a complete shocker! (it could not have been worse than that, but remembering that I would just at myself now).

Third mock (GMAT prep repeat of first test, 28th may)- I had taken almost a month back the 1st test so thought I should take one shot and yeah I was right in doing so. There were few repeats but that was not hell lot and I took the questions as fresh to simulate my actual performance. so finally I had again a 640 (Q49, V28)- I thought ok not bad (but was it sufficient for what I was aiming, I guess not).

Lessons from all the mocks so far- One breather I had that finally I had a decent quant score- try to focus on first 20 questions (if you can settle with at most 3-4 wrongs and later you happen to have 6-8 wrongs (obviously not in row!) even then you would end up 45+) it will pay dividends. For verbal- I was making mistake all over about 5-6 in each group (a total of 15-16) but interestingly enough different score (31, 25, 28) each time. After analyzing in depth- I could decipher that (esp. those which I took just before the exam 26, 28) I was able to concentrate till 20 Q's (remember I was using same strategy as in Quant but here it did not work) and could manage with 3-4 wrongs but later part I was making more mistakes (@ >10-12, I guess I was getting worked up by the end of the test). Issue was the third RC passage , which came with 4 Q's generally (& by this time one need to pace it up, so I tried skimming but could not get more than 2 Q's right)- this made a lot of difference because after this I got some CR's which probably did not matter in my scoring (so one stand to lose about 30-40 points if not given attention to the third RC passage).

Although I was not excited after mocks but these mocks provided me very good learning & insight for how to go in the real exam- Said to my self a) No matter what focus till the end of the test, b) For quant I would put up extra effort for first 20 questions, c) for verbal till the I need to focus till third RC (that means 30+ Q's), d) keep yourself up, it helps at great length, e) I knew deep down that I can break the ice (700 mark, just have confidence man it does not cost much rather it pays you more!)

So finally came scheduled day (30th May), I went about 1 hour or so early than scheduled time and could start early. Started with AWA (well I virtually practiced only on exam for this , I wrote just 2 times on the prep test with the help of chineseburned guide- was very helpful & I ended up getting 4.5 on AWA)- went quite good. Rushed to loo (sadly it was in the different building than the exam's one), gulped @ 200 ml orange juice & ate some cookies while running . Started quant section with +ve note- I guess I did not encounter a single probability, combinations problem. Lot of problems from number theory and manipulation of algebra. I could sense Quant part went well (was confident for 45+) then again I had to rush back to loo (same story as earlier break). Now was the real challenge to take the journey to meaningful end. Started off good but I guess I was messing with CR questions, even though I thought have managed it & should get 700+ but settled with 680 for now. I was very relaxed after the exam [at least for time being because of stress I had gone through esp. in past 1 week].

Resources:
Apart from OG12, Gmat club maths book is very good resource to clear your basics, additionally I had gone through MGMAT quant 5 strat guides but could not a great advantage there (though there are some but not a decisive advantage over Gmat club maths book). For Verbal: MGMAT SC, Powerscore CR bible,Nothing special for RC (Just OG12).

I hope my experience is useful to some if not many. Please drop a note if ylu have nay specific questions for me.

One request as I said I am not done with GMAT yet (as I strongly feel that I can do lot better than my 680, esp. in verbal. Also since I am shooting for top10's+Insead only so I guess it's imperative for me to retake ?. here is my profile- veterans please have a look & lemme know what you think of it with the current score. http://gmatclub.com/forum/my-odds-at-top-10-s-114568.html ) In worst case (if I've to retake)- any suggestion to improve my verbal score?. Though I am inclined towards Knewton on demand course, GMAt pill (mainly because of the guarantee of +50 pnts). any feedback on these courses ?

Aah long post guys (almost took 3 hrs to write ) nevertheless worth doing as I feel I need to give something back to the forum....
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My GMAT Journey 540->680->730!

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Last edited by yogesh1984 on 27 Apr 2012, 08:02, edited 6 times in total.
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11 Sep 2011, 22:19
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Nice one Yogesh, all the best for next time!
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05 Oct 2011, 19:04
@ Vikas- thank you , @ Ican- not yet mate...have not taken dates yet.. lets see ... hoping to take it soon ...
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06 Oct 2011, 04:19
Thanks for this v useful post Yogesh!
I have my gmat scheduled on Oct 19th. I have been prepping for last few months and I can find similar score drop just about now
I had been scoring consistently in the 660-680 range in September and hence scheduled my test in October hoping for the perfect 700 score. However, last few tests that I took my scores have fallen drastically and I scored 600 in Gmat Prep1 and 590 on Kaplan Free test.
Need some advice desperately! Deeply demotivated and frustrated as of now.

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06 Oct 2011, 20:30
khilkhil wrote:
Thanks for this v useful post Yogesh!
I have my gmat scheduled on Oct 19th. I have been prepping for last few months and I can find similar score drop just about now
I had been scoring consistently in the 660-680 range in September and hence scheduled my test in October hoping for the perfect 700 score. However, last few tests that I took my scores have fallen drastically and I scored 600 in Gmat Prep1 and 590 on Kaplan Free test.
Need some advice desperately! Deeply demotivated and frustrated as of now.

Well I do not have any opinion on Kaplan- I've not given but did hear now & then that their test is not quite up to the mark! second best option would be MGMAT test (after Gmat prep). Now regarding variation in the score- you need to pin point whats actually going weird in your case. For me verbal was pain area for several reasons-
1) SC questions- I had not developed full grasp/eye for the wrong answers so taking too much of the time & lot of variation resulted from this section on the tests.
2) CR questions- Actually to start with was doing good with this part but later on I banked on it and said to myself that I can risk to give little time (but unfortunately ended up giving almost no time towards pick of my prep ) on this part to concentrate on some other parts. Only when I started giving prep tests I realized the mistake of discontinuity/lack of practice.
3) RC questions- I've always banked on working on CR questions to have grip on RC questions (as I feel lot of overlap in type of questions asked). Varying part of the strategy could be the way you read the passage- you need to decide for yourself what suits you the best! Here was an interesting case with me - during the test till 2nd RC I was able to go strong but after that I felt dried/sucked up by the test. Especially I would feel helpless on seeing any CR questions because I almost thought ok lets just finish this thing somehow. Meanwhile during 3rd, 4th Rc passages I would be just 50-50: this makes a big difference in the score- because it does not affect your score for those RC's but at least 2 more questions, which come afterwards those passages!!
4) Sadly I rushed to the exam, I should have given more time before going for D-day. It was another story that I had decided (despite my bad performance in the prep tests) no matter what may come I am not going to lose my nerve in the exam (keeping prep test experience in mind). This mental toughness helped me to get highest (probably) possible score with the level of prep I had then!

So now to avoid my pitfalls last time, I have resorted to go over basics of grammar little more thoroughly (spent whole June on wren & martin- you do not need to unless you feel so & then spent again good time with Grail & Mgmat SC book). For daily prep I have adopted few strategies- daily 15-20 questions on SC, CR and 2 RC passages in the morning (please remember timing of the taking these questions is important factor in gauging your level of preparedness. Last time I had messed up this part a bit only to realise it later!) and review during the day or after coming from the work. During the travel to the office I go over flash cards/books/news paper editorials to solidify my concept/build my vocab.

Hope this helps, please let m know any specific questions for me!
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My GMAT Journey 540->680->730!

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08 Oct 2011, 12:49
nice strategy for your upcoming attempt
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Re: 540->680->730- Have patience and confidence, it shall pay! [#permalink]

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27 Apr 2012, 10:22
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As promised here it goes...

looking back to my last attempt in May11, when I ended with a 680, I would say that "6" on my score was probably blessing in disguise- not to boast myself but I still distinctly remember saying to myself that OK GMAC you shall pay for giving me less than what I deserve ..remembering that moment I just feel , though I do not know if 730(Q49,V41) is too great a score to brag about and probably I could have done have better in Quant esp.., but now I am more confident, and hopeful to get into my dream school- Harvard, most of all a sense of relief is always there after such a long excruciating journey

How it all began once again -
After getting a 680, I was quite disenchanted for some time with the state of affairs around me. I think during June-July 2011, I was not too sure about how to go from here- should I retake or just be with it ? then came a colleague from my company, who was also trying for GMAT and knew about my score etc.. if not him I may have not appeared again for the test, he really pushed me so hard to try again and I do not know why on the first place I was listening to him (we are not very chummy even today except for normal chit chat), may be somehow I was too immersed into my dream of getting into my dream school (see above) that I was ready for a long journey ahead to improve my last score by a good margin. It took some time to get back to normal and review all the pitfalls- what worked and what not for me. From the word go after exam it was quite apparent that I needed to improve on verbal.- it may sound simple and may have been written umpteen number of times here that one must identify his or her week areas and focus on where ROI is best, however one losses focus in between so anyway I mentioned this. For me area of improvement was- SC, and increasing my vocab list.

Early phase of prep ...
I spent around 2-3 months (Aug-Oct 11) on Wren & Martin to understand the basics of the rules (one may not need to do this .. but just did anyway I went through) around Jun 11 I guess I enrolled to GMAT-pill also (RC piece I must say quite good, much on course later). For RC I felt that my vocabulary was not quite good so during the same time started reading "The Hindu" editorials, The Mint "WSJ" column, and going over GMAT/GRE flashcards available on dictionary.reference.com very diligently!

Progress/Jolts/hurdles in this phase -
I guess it's difficult in the early phase to get used to read something like editorial, in which you do not have much interest, but what to do such is the life-get you used to it by end of Oct I could sense quite good improvement in my reading capability- I used to read as if I am analysing the whole passage, it made lot of difference later on solving RC and even to some extent the long CR passages. Going over Wren & Martin may not have been that eventful, however SC's made lot of sense after going over the relevant chapters. Then cam Deepavli time & my parents were after me to come home see some girls for marriage, I was like what to do now Just when I thought I should gear up my studies, this new emotional blackmail from parents was certainly a big distraction for some time. Decided to visit my native (@ >1000 miles away from work location) for more than a week. Thereafter few weeks of gulp-shup on phone took quite a good toll on prep. I think Nov-Dec went like a lean period for studies, and somehow I moved over the proposals.

Second phase, time to pace up a bit -
I knew I am taking too long to finish this GMAT thing, otherwise by stretching too long you run the risk of getting nowhere but becoming "delusional"- you know you should do now, but you do not get motivated enough or have energy to do that particular stuff. came Jan and my new year resolution was to finish the exam by March at max and started working towards this. Almost regularly 1-2 hour on the verbal- I used to go over 15-20 questions from SC, CR and sometimes 2-3 passages of RC in the morning and review later on the day while at work (yeah I know what you feel about it, but...) or after the work as time permitted. I mostly focused on the OG11, 12, Verbal reviews.

Progress/Jolts/hurdles in this phase -
By second half of Feb I could sense an improvement as whole on verbal front, but then since I had done those official materials so many times that almost remembered every question, so I thought I might be overestimating my prep.In between this, I had to attend one of my very close friend marriage and again had to go to my native because my Grandpa and Mom both got hospitalised in early March, resulting in about 2 week of disruption again and my whole plan seemed shattered, at least for short term, as I had plan to finish the exam by March max.

Third phase, and perhaps the final push (at least this is what I promised myself) -
Well as mentioned above 2 week of disruption was quite bad in terms of derailing me from my studies.. But somehow pulled back together and set a deadline of Apr 1st-2nd week for the test. Went ahead with revising whatever I had done so far, including OG11, 12, verbal review questions, and @ the 3 rd week started flirting (yeah I used this word purposefully, you do not do such tough problems at the fag end of your prep but life does no mercy sometimes and you have to do with whatever time you have got) with GMAT club's hard maths problems. I To assess my progress finally took GMAT Prep Test1 and scored 740 (Q50, V40)...

Progress/Jolts/hurdles in this phase -
As promised to myself, I tried to put forth all I had. In between my Grandpa passed away, was not quite sure now should I go again ? (I was just back from home 2 weeks back)... after 4-5 days of back & forth and guilt feeling that I'll not be visiting native for last rituals, I decided to not go and said Grandpa I think I spent quality time just at the last moment of your life..now it's time you RIP and I move forward with my Karma, as proclaimed lord Krishna in Geeta. As I mentioned I had done quite a few times official material so I was not pretty confident of Prep test 1 result. After reviewing results (wrong Q's: SC-3, CR-3, RC-2) I thought I have to improve on SC, so signed up for free course material of E-gmat and later went on signing up for the SC course @ 25th March (more on review of the material later)...so I had to postpone the test plan to 2-3 week of Apr. Now began the intensive workout of E-gmat SC material and couple of other mock GMAT prep tests- results were more in range 720-770. After repeat test 2 and getting 770, I felt time to enroll for the test and given the lot of rush for May dates April date was quite easy to get. So I enrolled for 24th Apr in the afternoon 12:45 pm NTTF center, Bangalore, India on 23rd Apr (yeah just one day in advance )

D-day/Test day Experience -

Prep Materials -
I utilized or almost grind-ed every problem (esp. the verbal section) from OG11, 12, verbal reviews. I had all the guides from MGMAT but the one I used the most was SC, and to certain extent quant number properties the advanced strategy guide to certain extent. I used Powerscore CR bible for CR and I relied on GMAT pill strategy, increasing my vocab, and reading the editorials for RC. For SC, I relied on many resources as I was pretty sure that this is the area that is going to give me the best ROI and that's strategy came pretty handy at the end- Aristotle SC, MGMAT SC, E-gmat strategy and to some extent GMAT pill concepts. For quant nothing more than the Bunuel's problem sets and GMAT club hard problem sets.

A little detail on each prep material (esp. the one helped me to reach this score) -

SC -
MGMAT SC is quite exhaustive and probably must have, however as many others, I too faced trouble following the whole guide. So tried my hands on Aristotle's SC- a very crisp & too the point guide, good to review the concepts quickly.GMAT-pill- Good on concept frameworks, good customer service- pretty well response in case of questions, but lacks the quality & new questions (other than OG), sometimes not much focus on how to take out all the wrong options- overall I would assign 3/5 to this course. E-gmat- quite good approach to solve the problem, quality of questions was pretty good, equal emphasis on removing all the wrong answers was good part, not so good part- even though I did not had much chance to interact & ask questions, but on one occasion I was told that please do not ask question other than official one's or the their's own. After my reply on that post, I feel they could sense the repercussion so no retort came..on other 1 or 2 occasions I had questions which I wrote to admin E-gmat but did not get reply neither I followed up because things were moving quite fast at my end and I had registered at almost end of the my study plan (@25th Mar). so I feel E-gmat may have little scope to improve on customer service- may be my case is just an exception but this is just my experience. Also couple of quiz questions can be safely retired as Q's based on Idioms are phased out by GMAC now. In all I would assign 4/5 to this course.

CR -
Powerscore CR Bible: This guide is quite easy to read and follow. It breaks down each argument type pretty well. The practice questions in the end of the chapters & examples seemed quite good in quality. The guide does a good job of explaining few obscure problem types such as- parallel reasoning, resolving the paradox, roles of certain statements, evaluating arguments , etc. However in last leg of my prep, I focused mainly on "Assumption, Strengthen/Weaken, Main point, Evaluating Arguments"- this group seems to consist almost 80%-85% of the problems on GMAT CR (a revelation to me after analysing my Prep test mocks!)

RC -
I think I liked the GMAT-pill methodology on RC's. It does pretty good job of explaining how to attack the RC's. However I must warn, esp. non-natives- if you do not have a reasonable vocab, please try to improve it first. Otherwise no method is going to work!, no alternative to that hard work...

Quant -
Well where is Bunuel- people seriously interested in increasing his or her quant score find him (well I mean his signature's Qs ).. and you take a bow sir, I almost owe it to you! I know my score should have been a min 50 but such is life...I am over it now! so apart from his signature's Q's I tried my hands on hard Q's from Gmat club's tests- more to learn the concepts and apply during real time. Must say these tests are designed to push you hard. Do not get disheartened to see bad results after taking them, just learn the process- you should be rewarded on D-day for sure!

Oh dear lord it took more than 4 hours to type it all & I feel still many things left to share ... anyways I'll adding few takeaways, advice later (I am too tired to type anymore, so sorry for now guys)...please post out if you have any comments!
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27 Apr 2012, 10:54
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Inspirational stuff. Best of luck for the rest of applications. For Quant did you encounter some weird geometry problems.
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27 Apr 2012, 10:58
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Nice inspirational post for other wanting to cross 700.. Goodluck with your apps.
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27 Apr 2012, 11:20
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Wow ! Congrats on the awesome score and thanks for the in-depth debrief !
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27 Apr 2012, 17:33
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Wow 730! Many congrats and good luck for the application.
Thanx for the detailed debrief.
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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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30 Apr 2012, 04:24
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Glad that it's helpfull to a few at least! thanks for nice words on future process Sorry folks for responding late on this, some work in office & some personal stuff held me back from responding... but now hopefully I'll be able to do so! oh well got AWA as well and it's 5.
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My GMAT Journey 540->680->730!

~ When the going gets tough, the Tough gets going!

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Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 282
Concentration: Strategy, General Management
GMAT 1: 680 Q49 V34
GMAT 2: 730 Q49 V41
GPA: 4
WE: Consulting (Other)
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Re: 540->680->730- Have patience and confidence, it shall pay! [#permalink]

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30 Apr 2012, 04:27
AbhiJ wrote:
Inspirational stuff. Best of luck for the rest of applications. For Quant did you encounter some weird geometry problems.

Thnks for kind words , on Quant- I do not think so... however what I can tell is ROI on number properties, geometry, & Algebra is probably highest on Quant side!
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My GMAT Journey 540->680->730!

~ When the going gets tough, the Tough gets going!

Re: 540->680->730- Have patience and confidence, it shall pay!   [#permalink] 30 Apr 2012, 04:27
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