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From 530 to 710 - My debrief

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From 530 to 710 - My debrief [#permalink] New post 18 Sep 2011, 05:38
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Initial Debrief - Test Date : 17th September, 2011

I first started to look towards B-school in 2009 at a time when deadlines were very close and found out about the GMAT. I shrugged my shoulders, thought how hard can it be and registered with 2 weeks to go. I had never realized that GMAT would become the sticky piece of gum under my shoe that I can't seem to get rid of.

1st attempt (530):

My first attempt was an unfortunate series of events.

a) Prep involved 2 general books. Princeton Review and Barrons (the most commonly peddled by the bookstores). Needless to say, they only taught shortcuts and guessing techniques.

b) Often people say 'survey the test centre', and that is what I did not do. The moment i was led into a cubicle i was dismayed. The screen was a flickering 14" CRT placed well above eye level. Somebody with regular eyesight might have fared through the ordeal but since I have keratoconus in both eyes (I see light 3 times as much as a regular person does), it was torture even to be just sitting there. I typed out the AWA with my eyes closed and edited out the mistakes later. Half-way through the quant, i had already developed a headache. The rest was just about surviving.
530 was still a shocking score.

2nd Attempt (630):

a) My preparation involved a few more books and notes, NOVA's GMAT and Princeton Review's Verbal Guide. Quant was about researching individual topics and making notes. Memorized lists of idioms and reviewed grammar. The preparation did go quite well. Attempted GmatPrep once and scored 680.

b) I changed my testing centre to a city 400km away. I called up the centre and confirmed the presence of LCD monitors beforehand. The test centre conditions were perfect.

c) I had my ducks in a row, but I guess one of them was sleepy and disrupted the whole line. I requested a week off from work, and it was denied. Next, I tried to have the day before the test off. I was told I could leave early, but sadly that did not happen. I got off from a tiring day at work, travelled 7 hours to an unfamiliar city the night before the test, arrived there at 4am, checked into a hotel, slept for a few hours (broken sleep) and had the audacity to show up at the test centre. :)
I could feel my weary body take its toll on the eager mind as i started the test. The state just went from lemons to lemonade as the test progressed.

d) The strategy was straightforward. Get every question right. It bogged me down. I had not understood what people meant when they said 'Smart test takers know where to cut their losses' (more on this later). I ended up being rushed on questions towards the end on both sections, that i would otherwise have easily gotten correct.

After i clicked the screen and saw my score, i felt 630 was something that did not belong to me. I was so low as I walked out of the test centre, a part of me felt like walking into the oncoming traffic. Even when down, i kept thinking this is doable and that wasn't me back there.

3rd Attempt(710):

I planned on leaving no stone unturned. 3-4 months of intensive prep lay ahead. I did not want an unexpected circumstance to bog me down, yet again.

a) I started from scratch. After analyzing my test scores, (the way our parents have with our report cards since grade 1) i realized the way forward was to increase my Quant from 43 to 50 and Verbal from 28 to 40. 7 and 12 points respectively. Went through NOVA's book for revising basics, then MGMAT's series of 8 books for details, Powerscore's CR etc. Consulted every book i had lying around to clear concepts e.g. Probability and permutations were best explained in NOVA's GRE book. Undertook numerous and extensive internet searches, extended and edited my notes; developing lists of number properties, geometry rules, sequences etc. Every second day i would go through them and see if each point was distinctly absorbed. Read every strategy available for CR and formed my own. SC from Manhattan Review and self made notes with tons of examples for each intricacy and color coded for easy revision. I worked on my prep 6-8 hours a day 12+ on weekends. I divided my sleep into two sessions (4 hour and 2 hour stretches) to keep myself fresh. This constituted 50 days of military grade prep.

b) Experience is golden. I read most test day stories, strategies and made strategy notes as well. One week before the test, I gave two GMATprep tests (one day apart) and scored 690 and 710. On analysis I realized that there was an issue of pacing and I was missing out on do-able questions towards the end. On quantitative, my strategy was to not spend time at all on questions that looked difficult in the first 15 seconds. I would eliminate, follow a hunch and move on. On verbal, i decided I would not spend time on the third reading passage (usually the longest). This would give me time on SC and CR questions that I had a better chance of scoring on, cutting losses and moving on.

c) I had it worked out. Great test centre, a comfortable place to stay (i was lucky that a friend of mine moved to that city).

Finally D day.

I was sitting with my friend the night before the test when he threw a probability question at me. Something easily solved by permutations but I wanted to clear how it could be done with probability. We spent half an hour discussing two probability questions. I felt confident after i had figured how to do them both with either prob or perm. and headed to bed.

The next morning I wasn't entirely fresh. :P This was my final shot at ivy and the pressure mounted. We drove to the test centre and kept talking about architecture, politics, women and anything but GMAT. That relaxed my nerves.

Test Experience

Quant: I can easily say that one fourth of the questions involved number properties, some very ugly ones at that. A few on ratios, percentages, geometry and sequences. One on probability, mixtures, statistics and 3D geometry each. Paced myself well. I was done with half the questions around the halfway mark and I decided to further speed up things. It worked out. I had 1 minute for the last question and solved with 10 seconds to go.

Verbal: Started off with SC and CR and hit the first short passage on the 5th. It did not scroll beyond the screen and It was comforting. I did not pace myself and just went through questions as fast as was necessary. I had counted on 3-4 reading passages. I hit the fourth and thought of myself as unlucky but skimmed through it, reading the questions first. Nearing the 34th question I had 12 minutes to spare. I knew I was almost home and would only see SC or CR questions, when a fifth reading passage, that scrolled and scrolled to no end, hit me. As i skimmed it and gave answers I expected no more than 3 questions from it and was eager to give as much as possible of the remaining time to CR and SC towards the end. After answering three questions I was surprised to get a fourth and even more so receive a fifth question from the passage. I did not stop to think at that moment and finished off the CR and SC towards the end. In retrospect, I might have damaged my score with skimming too fast on the final passage.

I had no expectations as i reach the score reporting screen, only fears of being left stranded under 700. An ivy dream on the precipice of a steep cliff. I sat silent for a moment as the two minutes for score cancellation ticked down. Said a silent prayer and clicked.

I was completely numb as the score appeared. Somewhere in my heart I knew I could do better, even as a sense of relief clouded my every thought. I was thankful for what i had received and being a perfectionist, i felt i was not justifying what i am capable of. Hehe, i don't want to sound too macho, specially not when coming from 530 to 710. I am as critical of myself as I am optimistic of others. :)

I called up my parents and a few close friends. Everybody was ecstatic. It was several hours later as I sat in a deep comfortable chair sipping lime on a satisfied tummy that the numbness dissipated and I felt I was past a phase.

This forum has been a Godsend. I intend to upload whatever notes I have made soon. (I need to fix colors, language and formatting so it can be understood by others) Hopefully help at least someone in some way. :)
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Re: From 530 to 710 - My debrief [#permalink] New post 18 Sep 2011, 06:17
Congratulations and brilliant performance bro. hmm 5 rc and you still didn't crumble under pressure. Really cool. Best of luck for applications.
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Re: From 530 to 710 - My debrief [#permalink] New post 18 Sep 2011, 06:45
great score... congrats !! What was your breakup.

Did you notice the changes suggested on this link.
attention-gmat-takers-very-important-120728.html
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Re: From 530 to 710 - My debrief [#permalink] New post 18 Sep 2011, 07:03
Thanks you aj :) The realization of facing 5 RC passages came in spasms. They did have my eyebrows rising higher all the while. Rushing through them might have slightly dented my verbal but I'm glad to have come out with a respectable score.

Gurpreet, the change was noticeable. Although I read this information today, i remember a point in time during the test (20 questions or so in) when I was wondering why idioms were not being tested, at least the tougher ones (I did spent a few seconds on most SCs searching for idiom accuracy). The SCs do seem relatively easier now. My breakup is Q49 V37.
Thanks, hope this experience helps you guys in your prep.
:)
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Re: From 530 to 710 - My debrief [#permalink] New post 18 Sep 2011, 07:33
HassanM wrote:
Thanks you aj :) The realization of facing 5 RC passages came in spasms. They did have my eyebrows rising higher all the while. Rushing through them might have slightly dented my verbal but I'm glad to have come out with a respectable score.

Gurpreet, the change was noticeable. Although I read this information today, i remember a point in time during the test (20 questions or so in) when I was wondering why idioms were not being tested, at least the tougher ones (I did spent a few seconds on most SCs searching for idiom accuracy). The SCs do seem relatively easier now. My breakup is Q49 V37.
Thanks, hope this experience helps you guys in your prep.
:)


Thanks Hassan, your experience will definitely help. Could you elaborate more the changes you have seen. This seems to be the hottest discussion on the forums, and I m sure none other than the gmat takers could explain the changes.
(Without violating the rules n regulations of GMAC)
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Re: From 530 to 710 - My debrief [#permalink] New post 18 Sep 2011, 07:43
Great work buddy. Good luck with your H/S/W applications.
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Re: From 530 to 710 - My debrief [#permalink] New post 18 Sep 2011, 09:04
HassanM wrote:
Thanks you aj :) The realization of facing 5 RC passages came in spasms. They did have my eyebrows rising higher all the while. Rushing through them might have slightly dented my verbal but I'm glad to have come out with a respectable score.

Gurpreet, the change was noticeable. Although I read this information today, i remember a point in time during the test (20 questions or so in) when I was wondering why idioms were not being tested, at least the tougher ones (I did spent a few seconds on most SCs searching for idiom accuracy). The SCs do seem relatively easier now. My breakup is Q49 V37.
Thanks, hope this experience helps you guys in your prep.
:)


Hey Hassan
congrats on a fantastic story you are a motivation factor people like us (specially with 5 RCs)
please elaborate meaning issue whenever you get time to recall the SC area
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Re: From 530 to 710 - My debrief [#permalink] New post 18 Sep 2011, 10:40
Thanks BlueRobin and Warlock :)

Guys the change they talk about has definitely set in (from what I've seen). I do remember getting two very short SCs that i had to solve by playing off the meanings against each other. Hehe, not divulging test questions but in the end I was left with two grammatically correct choices (twice). Most of them did touch upon grammar nuances. Simple items as Like vs Such as and comparing use of adjectives vs adverbs.

The RCs, I feel are not about reading entire passages but skimming them, getting a feel of what the passage is about. I feel this strongly because the portions requiring attention to detail are highlighted by GMAC themselves anyway. A few weeks before my test, i had to edit a number of newspaper articles for friends for correctness (as opposed to content). I was skimming detail following broader thoughts and seeing where the author changed stance. The test experience with RCs was similar. IMHO, 5 RC's is a little too much reading. :$ besides, i don't even remember what 3 of those 5 passages were about. I just made crosses on the little tracking area I had made in the scratch pad because the third was my cue to skim faster.

Some advice I want to pass onto you guys.

I was chasing deadlines on the previous attempts. That is very detrimental. For my final attempt I made sure I gave the test when I felt was adequately prepared (and not entirely when deadlines dictated). I registered on 5th September when I felt prepared enough and gave the test on 17th September despite knowing I will be rushed for the first round deadlines (October). Seems to have worked out :) at least I have a good chance at H/S/W.
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Re: From 530 to 710 - My debrief [#permalink] New post 18 Sep 2011, 11:53
Great score - congrats. 5 passages are lot. Can you share how they were: 35, 55-60 75-80.
Also, if you don't mind sharing your test scores - MGMAT, KAPLAN, etc?
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Re: From 530 to 710 - My debrief [#permalink] New post 18 Sep 2011, 12:12
Thanks schandok.

The first two passages were shorter, did not need to scroll. The next two were medium length. 1.25 times the screen height. (Three questions each). The last one was pretty long. Scrolled down twice the height of the screen (five questions).

My CAT practice was entirely with GMATprep. I would recommend saving them both for the time when you feel ready to pit yourself against the real thing.

The other CATs I used were 0800score ones. 5 verbal and 5 quant. I used them to figure out pacing. The scoring system for the 0800 is fudged but I relied more on how many I got right out of the total. It also provides a nice breakdown for each question type and mistakes made. Furthermore, I would study verbal only and give a verbal test. This allowed better analysis of individual sections (as opposed to taking a full CAT at once). These tests are not adaptive and are made on a scale of increasing difficulty. My scores on these were Quant 33-35/37 and Verbal 30-33/41. The scaled scores were in the 700 range.

Its just my opinion that you don't learn much from tests apart from pacing and knowing weak areas.
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Re: From 530 to 710 - My debrief [#permalink] New post 18 Sep 2011, 12:43
Big Congrats Hassan. Awesome debrief !!!

Good luck with your MBA applications. Looking forward to see your notes as well :)

So which schools are considering for R1 ?
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Re: From 530 to 710 - My debrief [#permalink] New post 19 Sep 2011, 09:49
Thanks a bunch mirfan! : )

I've toefl coming up this weekend. A ton of essays to write and some very personal and very disturbing questions to answer. I'll try and get my notes to this thread asap.

Applications are to the usual suspects. Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Columbia and NYU Stern. I'm contemplating a delay to the second round for three schools and devote time to perfecting two apps for now.

A few things I learned on my GMAT journey:

1. Survey the test centre, its a big confidence booster and you won't have to spare attention navigating around on the test day. Plus you're on comfortable and familiar territory.
2. Baby steps. Prepare one section, give section tests.
3. Prepare your own notes, take hints and pointers from others but personalized is supreme.
4. Adjust your biological clock so that your attention peaks at the timing of the test (3-4 days prior to the test). I gave my GMATprep tests at 10am, exactly when my actual test was due. It kind of helps and they were within 20 points of my actual score.
5. A good night's sleep is worth it. I was sleeping 4 hours a day for 50 days of prep. Caught up with my sleep 5 days before the test.
6. Use every resource available to clear concepts. Better yet, research each topic and make notes. Beg, borrow and buy (: P) books that tackle specifics.
7. Develop strategies for everything and I mean everything. Pacing, tackling CRs, RCs, What to skim/skip, cutting losses, writing ABCDE on scratch papers, tracking progress etc.

Just a few pointers that might be useful to gmatclubbers.
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Re: From 530 to 710 - My debrief [#permalink] New post 20 Sep 2011, 18:43
Well done :)
Best of luck with your application
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Re: From 530 to 710 - My debrief [#permalink] New post 22 Sep 2011, 07:17
HassanM wrote:
Initial Debrief - Test Date : 17th September, 2011

I first started to look towards B-school in 2009 at a time when deadlines were very close and found out about the GMAT. I shrugged my shoulders, thought how hard can it be and registered with 2 weeks to go. I had never realized that GMAT would become the sticky piece of gum under my shoe that I can't seem to get rid of.

1st attempt (530):

My first attempt was an unfortunate series of events.

a) Prep involved 2 general books. Princeton Review and Barrons (the most commonly peddled by the bookstores). Needless to say, they only taught shortcuts and guessing techniques.

b) Often people say 'survey the test centre', and that is what I did not do. The moment i was led into a cubicle i was dismayed. The screen was a flickering 14" CRT placed well above eye level. Somebody with regular eyesight might have fared through the ordeal but since I have keratoconus in both eyes (I see light 3 times as much as a regular person does), it was torture even to be just sitting there. I typed out the AWA with my eyes closed and edited out the mistakes later. Half-way through the quant, i had already developed a headache. The rest was just about surviving.
530 was still a shocking score.

2nd Attempt (630):

a) My preparation involved a few more books and notes, NOVA's GMAT and Princeton Review's Verbal Guide. Quant was about researching individual topics and making notes. Memorized lists of idioms and reviewed grammar. The preparation did go quite well. Attempted GmatPrep once and scored 680.

b) I changed my testing centre to a city 400km away. I called up the centre and confirmed the presence of LCD monitors beforehand. The test centre conditions were perfect.

c) I had my ducks in a row, but I guess one of them was sleepy and disrupted the whole line. I requested a week off from work, and it was denied. Next, I tried to have the day before the test off. I was told I could leave early, but sadly that did not happen. I got off from a tiring day at work, travelled 7 hours to an unfamiliar city the night before the test, arrived there at 4am, checked into a hotel, slept for a few hours (broken sleep) and had the audacity to show up at the test centre. :)
I could feel my weary body take its toll on the eager mind as i started the test. The state just went from lemons to lemonade as the test progressed.

d) The strategy was straightforward. Get every question right. It bogged me down. I had not understood what people meant when they said 'Smart test takers know where to cut their losses' (more on this later). I ended up being rushed on questions towards the end on both sections, that i would otherwise have easily gotten correct.

After i clicked the screen and saw my score, i felt 630 was something that did not belong to me. I was so low as I walked out of the test centre, a part of me felt like walking into the oncoming traffic. Even when down, i kept thinking this is doable and that wasn't me back there.

3rd Attempt(710):

I planned on leaving no stone unturned. 3-4 months of intensive prep lay ahead. I did not want an unexpected circumstance to bog me down, yet again.

a) I started from scratch. After analyzing my test scores, (the way our parents have with our report cards since grade 1) i realized the way forward was to increase my Quant from 43 to 50 and Verbal from 28 to 40. 7 and 12 points respectively. Went through NOVA's book for revising basics, then MGMAT's series of 8 books for details, Powerscore's CR etc. Consulted every book i had lying around to clear concepts e.g. Probability and permutations were best explained in NOVA's GRE book. Undertook numerous and extensive internet searches, extended and edited my notes; developing lists of number properties, geometry rules, sequences etc. Every second day i would go through them and see if each point was distinctly absorbed. Read every strategy available for CR and formed my own. SC from Manhattan Review and self made notes with tons of examples for each intricacy and color coded for easy revision. I worked on my prep 6-8 hours a day 12+ on weekends. I divided my sleep into two sessions (4 hour and 2 hour stretches) to keep myself fresh. This constituted 50 days of military grade prep.

b) Experience is golden. I read most test day stories, strategies and made strategy notes as well. One week before the test, I gave two GMATprep tests (one day apart) and scored 690 and 710. On analysis I realized that there was an issue of pacing and I was missing out on do-able questions towards the end. On quantitative, my strategy was to not spend time at all on questions that looked difficult in the first 15 seconds. I would eliminate, follow a hunch and move on. On verbal, i decided I would not spend time on the third reading passage (usually the longest). This would give me time on SC and CR questions that I had a better chance of scoring on, cutting losses and moving on.

c) I had it worked out. Great test centre, a comfortable place to stay (i was lucky that a friend of mine moved to that city).

Finally D day.

I was sitting with my friend the night before the test when he threw a probability question at me. Something easily solved by permutations but I wanted to clear how it could be done with probability. We spent half an hour discussing two probability questions. I felt confident after i had figured how to do them both with either prob or perm. and headed to bed.

The next morning I wasn't entirely fresh. :P This was my final shot at ivy and the pressure mounted. We drove to the test centre and kept talking about architecture, politics, women and anything but GMAT. That relaxed my nerves.

Test Experience

Quant: I can easily say that one fourth of the questions involved number properties, some very ugly ones at that. A few on ratios, percentages, geometry and sequences. One on probability, mixtures, statistics and 3D geometry each. Paced myself well. I was done with half the questions around the halfway mark and I decided to further speed up things. It worked out. I had 1 minute for the last question and solved with 10 seconds to go.

Verbal: Started off with SC and CR and hit the first short passage on the 5th. It did not scroll beyond the screen and It was comforting. I did not pace myself and just went through questions as fast as was necessary. I had counted on 3-4 reading passages. I hit the fourth and thought of myself as unlucky but skimmed through it, reading the questions first. Nearing the 34th question I had 12 minutes to spare. I knew I was almost home and would only see SC or CR questions, when a fifth reading passage, that scrolled and scrolled to no end, hit me. As i skimmed it and gave answers I expected no more than 3 questions from it and was eager to give as much as possible of the remaining time to CR and SC towards the end. After answering three questions I was surprised to get a fourth and even more so receive a fifth question from the passage. I did not stop to think at that moment and finished off the CR and SC towards the end. In retrospect, I might have damaged my score with skimming too fast on the final passage.

I had no expectations as i reach the score reporting screen, only fears of being left stranded under 700. An ivy dream on the precipice of a steep cliff. I sat silent for a moment as the two minutes for score cancellation ticked down. Said a silent prayer and clicked.

I was completely numb as the score appeared. Somewhere in my heart I knew I could do better, even as a sense of relief clouded my every thought. I was thankful for what i had received and being a perfectionist, i felt i was not justifying what i am capable of. Hehe, i don't want to sound too macho, specially not when coming from 530 to 710. I am as critical of myself as I am optimistic of others. :)

I called up my parents and a few close friends. Everybody was ecstatic. It was several hours later as I sat in a deep comfortable chair sipping lime on a satisfied tummy that the numbness dissipated and I felt I was past a phase.

This forum has been a Godsend. I intend to upload whatever notes I have made soon. (I need to fix colors, language and formatting so it can be understood by others) Hopefully help at least someone in some way. :)


Congrats!
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Re: From 530 to 710 - My debrief [#permalink] New post 22 Sep 2011, 07:30
great work....an inspiration... Hard work always pays off
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Re: From 530 to 710 - My debrief [#permalink] New post 22 Sep 2011, 08:03
wow....you are my inspiration Brother....Currently hovering in the late 500's
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WE: Marketing (Real Estate)
Followers: 2

Kudos [?]: 13 [0], given: 12

Re: From 530 to 710 - My debrief [#permalink] New post 22 Sep 2011, 08:15
Well done! I hope I can follow that example and get into the 700 club too. :)

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Manager
Manager
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Joined: 09 Aug 2011
Posts: 136
Location: United States
Concentration: General Management
GMAT Date: 11-15-2011
GPA: 3.33
Followers: 1

Kudos [?]: 9 [0], given: 38

Re: From 530 to 710 - My debrief [#permalink] New post 22 Sep 2011, 08:34
amazing debrief.....congrats
Intern
Intern
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Joined: 25 Jul 2011
Posts: 13
Location: Pakistan
GMAT 1: 710 Q49 V37
GPA: 3.3
WE: Engineering (Energy and Utilities)
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 6 [0], given: 3

Re: From 530 to 710 - My debrief [#permalink] New post 22 Sep 2011, 09:32
Thank you aisha, ondraled, nipuns, liftoff, martie. Thank you all.
:) glad to send off a positive vibe.

Wish you guys the very best on your Prep and tests.
_________________

When strong winds blow, some hide behind walls, others build windmills.

Manager
Manager
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Affiliations: University of Tehran
Joined: 06 Feb 2011
Posts: 203
Location: Iran (Islamic Republic of)
Grad GPA: 4
Concentration: Marketing
Schools: Boston U
GMAT 1: 680 Q45 V38
GPA: 4
WE: Marketing (Retail)
Followers: 7

Kudos [?]: 32 [0], given: 57

Re: From 530 to 710 - My debrief [#permalink] New post 22 Sep 2011, 10:38
Haha congrats. I score 530, too on a MGMAT CAT. Hope i can also score above 700 on the real day in November ;)
_________________

Ambition, Motivation and Determination: the three "tion"s that lead to PERFECTION.

World! Respect Iran and Iranians as they respect you! Leave the governments with their own.

Re: From 530 to 710 - My debrief   [#permalink] 22 Sep 2011, 10:38
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