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From 580 to 660 to 740 Finally Done!

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From 580 to 660 to 740 Finally Done! [#permalink] New post 22 Apr 2012, 12:03
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So I finished up my GMAT yesterday. Overall I am glad to be done with it. Overall I got a 740 - Q48 and V42. I have not got back my essay yet but I would be truly shocked if I did not get a 6.0.

For AWA read the Chineseburned guide - very logical and very easy. Follow the template and you will be fine.

My journey began back in 2011. Per the GMAT Club I had won a free course at Knewton. On my first evaluation test I got a 580 - Q39 and V32. It was at this point that I knew I had a bit of work ahead of me. So I hunkered down and starting studying (I will give a break down of materials below). In December of 2011 I was scheduled to take my test. Test day came and a couple of things happened that didn't go in my favor. For starters I totally botched the math and had to guess on the last 8 or so. Then in the verbal section when the moderator tried to sign me back into the computer after the break the computer froze and took a couple minutes off my test (as this was no fault of my own Pearson VUE offered to let me retest for free). All in I ended up getting a 660 Q45 V36 with a 6.0 AWA. On seeing this I was crushed and frankly really mad at Pearson. I collected my self and doubled down my efforts. I studied furiously for a few months and then took the test and performed adequately (although to be honest I think I could still do better).

I should note that I work in finance in NYC and typically work 80+ hour weeks with some weeks being 100+ hours. There were a number of weeks where I was unable to study at all, this is why it took me a while to get everything done. If I worked a 9-5 I bet I could have gotten this done in 6 months tops. My typical study schedule was as follows:
Monday - Thursday - Study from 10pm to 2am
Friday - rest
Saturday and Sunday - Try to get in 4 -5 hours studying (work pending)

I did not find the Knewton program to be particularly useful - I think I am far more of a self-motivated learner and found the Manhattan GMAT books to be far more useful. Particularly I think Knewton does not spend nearly enough time on SC - for someone like myself who was a grammatical moron I needed way more help then they were offering. For anyone who is seriously considering taking the test I really recommend using them (for what you get with printed and online resources its actually a great price). Personally my math skills were not up to snuff so it was great to go through the books and the SC Guide (as others will attest) is truly the best. I found Manhattan GMAT's CR book to be lacking (the RC book was also a bit of a waste but luckily I never had real issues with that). So I augmented this with PowerScore's CR Bible. This is a decent book and does a much better job explaining negation, etc.

My real weaknesses with the test were sentence correction (the vast bulk of my verbal areas where in this) and timing on quant - I still always run out of time.

In order to remedy these deficiencies I spent a ton of time going through the MGMAT SC book and then went through all the SC questions from OG 11, 12, and 13 (I was lucky enough to get some materials from friends who had previously taken the test). I highly recommend creating an error log. Basically what I did was I created a spread sheet with the list of every SC question I had ever gotten wrong - then I categorized it and listed out why all the other choices were incorrect. I then made a word doc that listed all the questions. I went through this until I could tell you why each choice was wrong and why certain things were correct. This was an immensely useful exercise - I would bet if you spent the time doing it you would instantly bump your SC score.

For quant the key for me was making sure I was staying in line with a schedule. I wrote out a schedule:
Question # 6 - 12 -18 - 24 - 30
Time Remaining: 63 -51 -39 - 27 - 15

Once I started sticking to this schedule I saw a meaningful bump in my quant score. In addition I also go the MGMAT Advanced Quant book. While what the book teaches is so-so, the question bank included online and in the back of the book are an immense help.

I also recommend doing a similar approach on quant. The key with quant is trying to see as many difficult type questions as possible and then knowing how to replicate their mechanics. After a point it really becomes about recognizing the pattern.

Here is a comprehensive list of all my tests:
Knewton GMAT Evaluation - 1-8-11 - 580 (Q39 V32)
Knewton GMAT #1 - 5-22-11 - 600 (Q40 V33)
Knewton GMAT #2 -8-7-11 - 640 (Q38 V42)
Knewton GMAT #3 -10-1-11 - 600 (Q37 V35)
Knewton GMAT #4 - 11-6-11 - 640 (Q45 V34)
MGMAT #1 - 11-20-11 - 700 (Q44 V40)
MGMAT #2 - 11-26-11 - 680 (Q48 V35)
GMAT Prep #1 - 12-3-11 - 690 (Q50 V34)
Actual GMAT #1 - 660 (Q45 V36) - keep in mind on this one had to guess on the last couple on quant and I was unfairly docked time on verbal

Then I spent time restudying MGMAT SC and going through quant.
MGMAT #3 - 3-3-12 - 730 (Q49 V41)
MGMAT #4 - 3-11-12 - 730 (Q45 V44)
MGMAT #5 - 3-24-12 - 720 (Q48 V40)
MGMAT -#6 - 4-1-12 - 730 (Q48 V41)

I then reset the MGMAT tests in order to go through additional ones:
MGMAT #1A - 4-6-12 - 730 (Q49 V41)
MGMAT #1B - 4-15-12 - 770 (Q51 V44)
GMAT Prep #2 (new software) - 4-19-12 - 760 (Q49 V44)

On my most recent test day my biggest mistakes were as follows:
#1 - Drank way to much water prior to my test and had to go to the bathroom - nearly all I could think about during the quant test (almost literally as I started it) was how badly I had to pee. This is annoying and had I not guzzled a bunch of green tea and water prior I might not have had this issue - which to be honest was really distracting.
#2 - Didn't stick to my schedule on quant and ended up having to guess on the last three - I honestly feel this lowered me from Q49 to Q48.

If I were to advise someone on how to prep I would say the following:
#1 - This test is absolutely beatable - I am not (no will I ever be) 1/10,000 the mathematician that Bunuel is.
#2 - Spend your first period of time just learning the basics (don't even look over OG questions yet). Just get a copy of the MGMAT guides and spend a lot of time going through them - be sure to utilize the online question banks as well. Focus first on knowledge - meaning its fine to take 5 minutes to get a problem, the key is understanding the why and how.
#3 - After you have the basics down I would then start to go through the OG problems. I personally found the best was to batch them in groups of 10 - download the timer app - then time yourself as you do the questions (2 min for math and CR and 1min for SC). After you finish a batch spend some time reviewing (be sure to go over the one's you got right as well as the one's you got wrong and be extra sure to mark any problem that took you longer then the above recommended times so you can review it and improve on it).
#4 - After you go through all the OG problems and MGMAT problems it is now worth taking a test. Take some tests being sure to stick with the quant timing schedule. The key is after you take your tests to review what you got wrong and why.
#5 - For the days in between your tests I would recommend going through your error log and improving - the key is not memorizing answers it is to understand the how and why of each problem.
#6 - If you are shooting for a particularly high score I would now get the MGMAT advanced book and go through those problems (remember to time yourself).

If you do all that you should easily be able to destroy a 700 score.

A few things to remember:
#1 - Don't waste OG questions - there are only so many so be sure to review them only when you are good and ready
#2 - The GMAT Prep software and OG questions for quant are easier than what is found on the real test so I would recommend holding yourself to MGMAT standards which offer tougher quant.
#3- Do the daily questions from GMAT club. They are a good helpful that keeps your mind sharp.
#4 - Always look at posts by Bunuel (seriously kudos).
#5 - GMAT club is actually pretty weak on verbal - the explanations a lot of people offer are questionable and I think the quality is best when it is a moderator or an instructor responding.
#6 - There are some quant questions that go way beyond what is in the GMAT so make sure you are studying smart - i.e. no need to study some of the ridiculous combinametrics questions when odds are you wont need to know anything beyond the basics in this category. (personally I would advise spending the most time understanding number properties, exponents, and how to factor as you will see these more than others).

I would like to thank everyone in the GMAT community for helping me out on this. I just hope that my score is good enough to get me in at one of my dream schools (Columbia, Wharton, Harvard, Yale, and Chicago).

I look forward to tackling this next part (essays, adcoms, rec letters, school visits, etc.) and hope the GMAT club can be just as useful in this endeavor.

Thanks again - hopefully some of the newbs out there are inspired by my post and learn something from it.

Last edited by u0422811 on 24 Apr 2012, 10:28, edited 1 time in total.
Knewton GMAT Discount CodesKaplan GMAT Prep Discount CodesManhattan GMAT Discount Codes
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Re: From 580 to 660 to 740 Finally Done! [#permalink] New post 22 Apr 2012, 15:35
u0422811 wrote:
So I finished up my GMAT yesterday. Overall I am glad to be done with it. Overall I got a 740 - Q48 and V42. I have not got back my essay yet but I would be truly shocked if I did not get a 6.0.

For AWA read the Chineseburned guide - very logical and very easy. Follow the template and you will be fine.

My journey began back in 2011. Per the GMAT Club I had won a free course at Knewton. On my first evaluation test I got a 480 - Q39 and V32. It was at this point that I knew I had a bit of work ahead of me. So I hunkered down and starting studying (I will give a break down of materials below). In December of 2011 I was scheduled to take my test. Test day came and a couple of things happened that didn't go in my favor. For starters I totally botched the math and had to guess on the last 8 or so. Then in the verbal section when the moderator tried to sign me back into the computer after the break the computer froze and took a couple minutes off my test (as this was no fault of my own Pearson VUE offered to let me retest for free). All in I ended up getting a 660 Q45 V36 with a 6.0 AWA. On seeing this I was crushed and frankly really mad at Pearson. I collected my self and doubled down my efforts. I studied furiously for a few months and then took the test and performed adequately (although to be honest I think I could still do better).

I should note that I work in finance in NYC and typically work 80+ hour weeks with some weeks being 100+ hours. There were a number of weeks where I was unable to study at all, this is why it took me a while to get everything done. If I worked a 9-5 I bet I could have gotten this done in 6 months tops. My typical study schedule was as follows:
Monday - Thursday - Study from 10pm to 2am
Friday - rest
Saturday and Sunday - Try to get in 4 -5 hours studying (work pending)

I did not find the Knewton program to be particularly useful - I think I am far more of a self-motivated learner and found the Manhattan GMAT books to be far more useful. Particularly I think Knewton does not spend nearly enough time on SC - for someone like myself who was a grammatical moron I needed way more help then they were offering. For anyone who is seriously considering taking the test I really recommend using them (for what you get with printed and online resources its actually a great price). Personally my math skills were not up to snuff so it was great to go through the books and the SC Guide (as others will attest) is truly the best. I found Manhattan GMAT's CR book to be lacking (the RC book was also a bit of a waste but luckily I never had real issues with that). So I augmented this with PowerScore's CR Bible. This is a decent book and does a much better job explaining negation, etc.

My real weaknesses with the test were sentence correction (the vast bulk of my verbal areas where in this) and timing on quant - I still always run out of time.

In order to remedy these deficiencies I spent a ton of time going through the MGMAT SC book and then went through all the SC questions from OG 11, 12, and 13 (I was lucky enough to get some materials from friends who had previously taken the test). I highly recommend creating an error log. Basically what I did was I created a spread sheet with the list of every SC question I had ever gotten wrong - then I categorized it and listed out why all the other choices were incorrect. I then made a word doc that listed all the questions. I went through this until I could tell you why each choice was wrong and why certain things were correct. This was an immensely useful exercise - I would bet if you spent the time doing it you would instantly bump your SC score.

For quant the key for me was making sure I was staying in line with a schedule. I wrote out a schedule:
Question # 6 - 12 -18 - 24 - 30
Time Remaining: 63 -51 -39 - 27 - 15

Once I started sticking to this schedule I saw a meaningful bump in my quant score. In addition I also go the MGMAT Advanced Quant book. While what the book teaches is so-so, the question bank included online and in the back of the book are an immense help.

I also recommend doing a similar approach on quant. The key with quant is trying to see as many difficult type questions as possible and then knowing how to replicate their mechanics. After a point it really becomes about recognizing the pattern.

Here is a comprehensive list of all my tests:
Knewton GMAT Evaluation - 1-8-11 - 580 (Q39 V32)
Knewton GMAT #1 - 5-22-11 - 600 (Q40 V33)
Knewton GMAT #2 -8-7-11 - 640 (Q38 V42)
Knewton GMAT #3 -10-1-11 - 600 (Q37 V35)
Knewton GMAT #4 - 11-6-11 - 640 (Q45 V34)
MGMAT #1 - 11-20-11 - 700 (Q44 V40)
MGMAT #2 - 11-26-11 - 680 (Q48 V35)
GMAT Prep #1 - 12-3-11 - 690 (Q50 V34)
Actual GMAT #1 - 660 (Q45 V36) - keep in mind on this one had to guess on the last couple on quant and I was unfairly docked time on verbal

Then I spent time restudying MGMAT SC and going through quant.
MGMAT #3 - 3-3-12 - 730 (Q49 V41)
MGMAT #4 - 3-11-12 - 730 (Q45 V44)
MGMAT #5 - 3-24-12 - 720 (Q48 V40)
MGMAT -#6 - 4-1-12 - 730 (Q48 V41)

I then reset the MGMAT tests in order to go through additional ones:
MGMAT #1A - 4-6-12 - 730 (Q49 V41)
MGMAT #1B - 4-15-12 - 770 (Q51 V44)
GMAT Prep #2 (new software) - 4-19-12 - 760 (Q49 V44)

On my most recent test day my biggest mistakes were as follows:
#1 - Drank way to much water prior to my test and had to go to the bathroom - nearly all I could think about during the quant test (almost literally as I started it) was how badly I had to pee. This is annoying and had I not guzzled a bunch of green tea and water prior I might not have had this issue - which to be honest was really distracting.
#2 - Didn't stick to my schedule on quant and ended up having to guess on the last three - I honestly feel this lowered me from Q49 to Q48.

If I were to advise someone on how to prep I would say the following:
#1 - This test is absolutely beatable - I am not (no will I ever be) 1/10,000 the mathematician that Bunuel is.
#2 - Spend your first period of time just learning the basics (don't even look over OG questions yet). Just get a copy of the MGMAT guides and spend a lot of time going through them - be sure to utilize the online question banks as well. Focus first on knowledge - meaning its fine to take 5 minutes to get a problem, the key is understanding the why and how.
#3 - After you have the basics down I would then start to go through the OG problems. I personally found the best was to batch them in groups of 10 - download the timer app - then time yourself as you do the questions (2 min for math and CR and 1min for SC). After you finish a batch spend some time reviewing (be sure to go over the one's you got right as well as the one's you got wrong and be extra sure to mark any problem that took you longer then the above recommended times so you can review it and improve on it).
#4 - After you go through all the OG problems and MGMAT problems it is now worth taking a test. Take some tests being sure to stick with the quant timing schedule. The key is after you take your tests to review what you got wrong and why.
#5 - For the days in between your tests I would recommend going through your error log and improving - the key is not memorizing answers it is to understand the how and why of each problem.
#6 - If you are shooting for a particularly high score I would now get the MGMAT advanced book and go through those problems (remember to time yourself).

If you do all that you should easily be able to destroy a 700 score.

A few things to remember:
#1 - Don't waste OG questions - there are only so many so be sure to review them only when you are good and ready
#2 - The GMAT Prep software and OG questions for quant are easier than what is found on the real test so I would recommend holding yourself to MGMAT standards which offer tougher quant.
#3- Do the daily questions from GMAT club. They are a good helpful that keeps your mind sharp.
#4 - Always look at posts by Bunuel (seriously kudos).
#5 - GMAT club is actually pretty weak on verbal - the explanations a lot of people offer are questionable and I think the quality is best when it is a moderator or an instructor responding.
#6 - There are some quant questions that go way beyond what is in the GMAT so make sure you are studying smart - i.e. no need to study some of the ridiculous combinametrics questions when odds are you wont need to know anything beyond the basics in this category. (personally I would advise spending the most time understanding number properties, exponents, and how to factor as you will see these more than others).

I would like to thank everyone in the GMAT community for helping me out on this. I just hope that my score is good enough to get me in at one of my dream schools (Columbia, Wharton, Harvard, Yale, and Chicago).

I look forward to tackling this next part (essays, adcoms, rec letters, school visits, etc.) and hope the GMAT club can be just as useful in this endeavor.

Thanks again - hopefully some of the newbs out there are inspired by my post and learn something from it.


Thank you very much for the very detailed debrief and advice on preparation and Congratulations on achieving that high GMAT score. From your post it seems that all one has to do is to keep on studying and knowing the basics and how to thoroughly solve the GMAT OG Questions. Good luck on the applications for b school.
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Re: From 580 to 660 to 740 Finally Done! [#permalink] New post 22 Apr 2012, 16:14
Congrats on the great score and good luck with your apps to the Ultra-Elite schools.
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Re: From 580 to 660 to 740 Finally Done! [#permalink] New post 23 Apr 2012, 01:26
Congratulations ! Thanks for your advices.
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Re: From 580 to 660 to 740 Finally Done! [#permalink] New post 23 Apr 2012, 03:05
A BIG congrats on the very enviable score and kudos for giving such sound advice! All the best with the applications!
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Re: From 580 to 660 to 740 Finally Done! [#permalink] New post 23 Apr 2012, 04:05
Great debrief! Congratulations!
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Re: From 580 to 660 to 740 Finally Done! [#permalink] New post 23 Apr 2012, 04:40
Great Debrief.. Thank you for letting us know about the process that had improved your SC score.
All the best for your rest of the admission process
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Re: From 580 to 660 to 740 Finally Done! [#permalink] New post 23 Apr 2012, 06:44
Congrats on the score!

Quote:
#1 - Drank way to much water prior to my test and had to go to the bathroom - nearly all I could think about during the quant test (almost literally as I started it) was how badly I had to pee. This is annoying and had I not guzzled a bunch of green tea and water prior I might not have had this issue - which to be honest was really distracting.


I know that this is something that I believe is assumed by many test takers. They assume that they won't need to take a whiz in the middle of any section and also because after all, there are breaks between each section. But you are right and you learned the hard way. Drinking even a 20 oz bottle of water/soda/beer (please don't drink the latter before the test) is going to make your bladder expand within an hour tops, even with a meal to absorb the liquid. Could take an hour to 90 minutes to get rid of the "urination pangs" because the bladder is filling up at a rapid pace due to the fact that you ingested quite a bit more liquid than your body needed. Not surprised if you felt the pangs within 20 minutes between trips because of that.

Sorry to give somewhat unpleasant details, but don't drink a 20 oz coffee/water, etc within an hour or even two hours of test time. Your bladder and your test thinking mind will thank you for it.
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Re: From 580 to 660 to 740 Finally Done! [#permalink] New post 23 Apr 2012, 07:14
Congrats on your success story
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Re: From 580 to 660 to 740 Finally Done! [#permalink] New post 23 Apr 2012, 09:42
Way to stick with it. I really admire people who are willing to go the extra mile so to speak and overcome a lot with regards to adversity/not initially succeeding. Amazing score!
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Re: From 580 to 660 to 740 Finally Done! [#permalink] New post 26 Apr 2012, 12:08
Congrats on your score and good luck on your apps. I'll definitely be taking your advice into consideration as I study for my own GMAT!
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Re: From 580 to 660 to 740 Finally Done! [#permalink] New post 26 Apr 2012, 12:13
amazing !!

how did you manage to keep your motivation high :) i feel so stretched with mty second attempt even :)

btw... congrts
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Re: From 580 to 660 to 740 Finally Done! [#permalink] New post 26 Apr 2012, 12:19
u0422811 wrote:
I look forward to tackling this next part (essays, adcoms, rec letters, school visits, etc.) and hope the GMAT club can be just as useful in this endeavor.

Thanks again - hopefully some of the newbs out there are inspired by my post and learn something from it.


Congratulations !!!!!

Wish you all the best.

Let me know if i could be of any help to you for the essays or for any other aspect of your application process (Please check my signature thread for more details)

Good Luck
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Re: From 580 to 660 to 740 Finally Done! [#permalink] New post 26 Apr 2012, 21:29
Congrats for such a great score.
And friends need your advice for my prep. I had taken gmat once and really screwed it up. I was doing well during my prep. In kaplan tests was scoring in the range of 630 to 660. GMAT prep tests, 3 days before the actual test, scored 650, but on the G day, scored badly. not even 600. Kindly advice as to how to start all over again. Taken the gmat date, 3 months from now
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Re: From 580 to 660 to 740 Finally Done! [#permalink] New post 27 Apr 2012, 06:13
rana2018alok wrote:
Congrats for such a great score.
And friends need your advice for my prep. I had taken gmat once and really screwed it up. I was doing well during my prep. In kaplan tests was scoring in the range of 630 to 660. GMAT prep tests, 3 days before the actual test, scored 650, but on the G day, scored badly. not even 600. Kindly advice as to how to start all over again. Taken the gmat date, 3 months from now



Could be nerves but I would also focus on what your weaknesses are. Do a realistic assessment and see what areas you can improve most on. I would spend some time doing SC as I think everyone can improve on this. If you are weak on CR I recommend going through the OG and maybe powerscore to improve your CR score and once those are expended try going through LSAT.

They key to this whole process though is studying and analyzing your weaknesses.

If quant is a weakness I would try going back and re-learning the basics on your weakness areas than trying to build up to advanced problems in the area.

Hope this helps.
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Re: From 580 to 660 to 740 Finally Done! [#permalink] New post 27 Apr 2012, 06:43
Thanks. I think afer such poor score quant and verbal both must be weak and not upto the 700 level. In particular rc is weakest. And in quant permutations an probability. And ill have to go through all over once again.

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Re: From 580 to 660 to 740 Finally Done! [#permalink] New post 27 Apr 2012, 07:32
Congrats! After reading such a post like yours, i am even more motivated. 700 is reachable.
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Re: From 580 to 660 to 740 Finally Done! [#permalink] New post 27 Apr 2012, 07:35
rana2018alok wrote:
Thanks. I think afer such poor score quant and verbal both must be weak and not upto the 700 level. In particular rc is weakest. And in quant permutations an probability. And ill have to go through all over once again.

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I was pretty weak in permutations and combinations. I found the best thing to do was literally just go through all the collections in MGMAT as well as here on the gmat club. Go slowly at first so you can really understand how to set it up and do it. Only worry about timing once you fully understand how to do the math.
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Re: From 580 to 660 to 740 Finally Done! [#permalink] New post 27 Apr 2012, 11:45
Thank you very much for the very detailed debrief and advice on preparation and Congratulations on the great GMAT score !
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Re: From 580 to 660 to 740 Finally Done! [#permalink] New post 27 Apr 2012, 13:43
Congrats. Thanks for detailed debrief
Re: From 580 to 660 to 740 Finally Done!   [#permalink] 27 Apr 2012, 13:43
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