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First post- 710 debrief

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First post- 710 debrief [#permalink] New post 10 Dec 2012, 15:54
Hi all,

First time poster here, been a reader here for the last month and a half or so. Took my 2nd GMAT today and reached my goal of breaking the 700 barrier! I want to give back by briefly sharing my experience and answering any questions people have.

I took my first GMAT earlier in the year over the summer. I decided to take it towards the end of undergrad and started out with a free diagnostic MGMAT test. 640. Taking this cold, even though I was in exam mode with finals around the corner, gave me some confidence that with some studying I could break 700 and I made that my goal. I self-studied using the 8 MGMAT books for Quant and Verbal (4th edition), MGMAT Foundations of GMAT Math (5th edition), and OG 12.

MGMAT Foundations of GMAT Math is an absolute must for anyone who has lost track of the various rules surrounding what's being tested on the Quant section. I went through the entire book before starting the MGMAT study guides on my own. As many here already know, the great thing about using MGMAT in conjunction with OG is that you will simultaneously go through every problem in the OG. I also took advantage of the CATs on the MGMAT website. If you buy the books, you can redeem codes to get access to the exams. Nothing special here, I worked through all MGMAT books (in order) and did about 90% of the OG problems. Didn't focus too much on IR/AWA until 2 weeks before exam day.

Along the way I took a practice CAT every 2 weeks or so, spacing it out to see my progress: (610/680/650/640). Was definitely disappointed not to see a huge improvement compared to my diagnostic, but learning the format of the test and the little nuances you have to remember when solving SC or DS questions plays a big part in your overall performance and I felt that my foundation was solid. The week before the exam, I took a GMAT Prep CAT (650) and took my last MGMAT CAT (700) 2 days before. After that, relaxed. After seeing that 700 on my last CAT I felt pretty good.

Exam day- drove to the test site the day before, got a good night's sleep, really didn't stress about anything. My test started at 8am. For the record, I would try to avoid an early start time if possible.

AWA/IR: Felt pretty good about the essay (although I can't remember the topic), iffy about IR. Break time. Had my hand up for a full 2 MINUTES before the test admin guy saw me. Wasted valuable time on my break. To all future test takers, MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH THE EXAM ADMIN BEFORE CLICKING THE BUTTON SAYING YOU WILL TAKE YOUR BREAK. This may sound trivial, but it is an annoyance and certainly can't be good for your stress level. Needless to say I was annoyed and had to run to the bathroom, crunch a power bar, and take a swig of water. Get back with seconds to spare.
Quant: Felt overwhelmed to be honest. Lots of tricky DS questions having to do with Number Properties and a few near-impossible problems mixed in. When I hit a problem I knew I wasn't going to solve I swallowed my pride, took the best guess, and moved on. This is important-- it gives you extra time to make sure you get the rest of the questions right. No point in wasting time on something you don't know how to solve anyway.
Verbal: Felt great. In all my practice tests I had high scores in Verbal including one 45. RCs seemed a little tough.

Keep score. 690. Happy- 690 is a great score, but at the same time there was a little "...just...missed it..." along with the score. 49 Q 35 V. Shocked at both-- thought they would be the opposite. When the full results came in I scored a 6 on AWA and 8 IR.

Took 2 months off, then I signed up for Knewton. I was attracted by the 50 pt guarantee and read some good reviews. Went through all classes and required work as well as most of the extra work. Didn't do anything outside of Knewton work except for another GMAT Prep CAT (700) and a MGMAT CAT (680- I reset my previous tests).

Knewton is a great course if you are more of a visual learner, which I am for some topics but not for others. I found their Verbal videos in particular to be more helpful than Quant for me. Signed up for round 2, finished all required Knewton work 2 weeks before test day. Spent the last 2 weeks reviewing using almost all of Knewton's extra practice problems, of which they have a TON.

You may have noticed I haven't mentioned Knewton's CATs. The scoring seemed screwy. I honestly don't know what it is but my scores were as follows: 570/630/580/590/680/730. Yeah, I don't know either... one of the tests I scored a 33 Quant despite getting 30/37 correct... weird. Regardless, Knewton is a solid course and I would recommend it in particular to people who are struggling to move out of the 600-650 range into the general area of a 700. Again, it definitely helped me for Verbal.

Took my last GMAT Prep CAT and was encouraged by the 700 I saw on the screen. For my last CAT, I took a MGMAT after resetting the scores. 680. I took this 2 days before the exam in the AM. After that, I relaxed. Played some sports during the day, went out at night, and went to an NFL game the day before. No stress.

Woke up today, same deal as last time. AWA and IR seemed easy enough. Quant- I felt iffy. Verbal- felt great. Keep score... 710. 48 Q, 39 V. WOOOOOOO! Very happy that I cracked the barrier. Honestly I'm not going to analyze my performance too in-depth during the exam, unless someone wants me to. Went without any major problems and I had a couple minutes to spare at the end of each section. Cut it close with the essay, though.

As I said before, if anyone has any questions I am more than happy to respond. I came across GMATClub about 2 months ago and just scanning the forums for a random question during some downtime at work keeps you sharp. This is a great website with alot of people on here willing to help out. Even though I've only been around for a little while, I wanted to give a big thanks to everyone here.

IMO the most important things are to take each practice test seriously and take a day off before the exam. Also, don't be afraid to take a few days off in the middle of your studying. I felt I was getting burned out at some point, so I took 3-4 days off and came back refreshed. Everybody's different, but the main thing is to go into the test confident and well-rested. Set a goal for yourself and keep going! People talk about motivational videos and speeches and stuff, but your performance is directly correlated to how badly YOU want YOURSELF to succeed. To everyone else out there, good luck and keep working at it!
Knewton GMAT Discount CodesKaplan GMAT Prep Discount CodesManhattan GMAT Discount Codes
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Re: First post- 710 debrief [#permalink] New post 10 Dec 2012, 16:29
Congrats on breaking the 700 barrier!

Would you recommend Knewton to someone at the 500-level (with no particular strength in any question type)?
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Re: First post- 710 debrief [#permalink] New post 10 Dec 2012, 18:03
Blax0r wrote:
Congrats on breaking the 700 barrier!

Would you recommend Knewton to someone at the 500-level (with no particular strength in any question type)?


Thanks!

Yes I would, but before that I would go through the entire Foundations of GMAT Math guide from MGMAT if you haven't already. It goes by pretty quick. After that, you should have a more solid foundation for the Quant stuff. If you are a native English speaker, you have all the foundation you need for Verbal. IMO Knewton will definitely get you to the 600s if you concentrate during the lessons and complete (and review) the assigned work. Understanding what you got wrong and why is more important than cranking out as many questions as you can and hoping you get a certain percentage right.
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Re: First post- 710 debrief [#permalink] New post 10 Dec 2012, 18:11
Got it, thanks for the tip (actually I was looking for advice for my brother); I'll definitely get him to check out MG's quant book as well.
Re: First post- 710 debrief   [#permalink] 10 Dec 2012, 18:11
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