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From 620 to 730

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From 620 to 730 [#permalink] New post 11 Jul 2010, 07:51
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Hi guys, I took the test for the second time got a 730 (49 Quant & 40 Verbal). Below is how I did it.

First Test: 620

1. Timeline: I had studied for about 3 months, 6-hours each weekend day and approximately 1 hour during each weekday. My sole resources were Kaplan GMAT course book and later the Kaplan Advanced GMAT book. I later enrolled in Kaplan’s Advanced Classroom Course and purchased the ManhattanGMAT Sentence Correction and Number Properties books.

2. Practice Tests: I took about 7 Kaplan CAT exams and scored from 570 – 710. The problem was that I was under so much pressure with work and studying I knew I wasn’t getting the best out of the course. Although I forced myself to push through the materials, my mental approach had been the GMAT was something I desperately wanted to get out of the way.

3. In January 2010, I took the GMAT. These are the things I did wrong:

a. I chose an 8AM appointment time which was predicated on getting a good night’s rest and starting early. Complete disaster; I burnt out midway through Verbal and knew I made a ton of silly mistakes in quant because I glanced over the detail. Lesson here is this: GMAT focuses on a lot of detail in the questions (especially quant) so take it when you are relaxed and alert.

b. I took four Full length practice tests plus two GMAT Focus test in the week leading up to the exam. Don’t recommend such an intense schedule.

c. Finally, I didn’t review all the verbal questions in the OG. Lesson: review every single one of the verbal questions in the OG. Most importantly, I did them on the side, then find out why I was wrong. A pattern emerged on the CR and SC questions. (Hint: didn’t have time to separately do them and check the answers so I read through the answer explanations but only after I started getting about 90% right. Again, there was a pattern for me).

4. Test result popped up as a 620. I was royally pissed and egotistically bruised. Picked myself up and decided I had to regain my pride.

Second Test: 730

1. Timeline: I started studying again in mid-May, this time I was doing about 2-4 hours each weekday (including at work mind you). Kaplan online and MGMAT helped. You can do their practice sets in an untimed manner so I took full advantage of that. My strategy was as follows:
a. Pick a subject (example CR), then do the first practice of about 30 questions spanning all aspects (i.e. assumptions, weaken, flaws, etc). Then hone in on where I was falling short. I got additional resources including MGMAT CR, Geometry, Equations Inequalities & VICs. I did this for every category and after spending 3-hours reviewing the material and practice sets, I got the fundamentals down.

b. Timing: I discovered that I was spending way too much time on quants because I wanted to solve each one the hard way (aka direct way). I cut my timing into half (with some to spare) by mastering the strategy of Picking Numbers. It is immensely efficient and so easy even a caveman can do it. Kaplan preaches this a lot in case you are looking for a resource. Additionally, I used backsolving as a fall back (another strategy Kaplan preaches a lot). These two strategies ensured I finished my quants with time to spare.

c. Next was getting rid of silly mistakes (like solving for % increase rather than how many times one figure is greater than another). These were killing me, in some practice tests, I could get 8 wrong answers in quant section and 6 of them will be because I didn’t pay attention to the detail (it seemed there was always two questions I was clueless about most of the time). Ok, my way was unorthodox but I combated it by taking four recent CAT exams, analyzing which questions I was getting wrong and discovered a pattern. I was getting about two questions wrong in the high teens (questions 16 – 19), about 3 wrong in the high 20s (26 – 29), and about 3 wrong in the mid 30s. I think I discovered when mental fatigue was kicking in so I slowed down around those areas (use this knowledge as you wish, it helped me eliminate silly mistakes).

d. Finally, Kaplan’s program had this feature called the Ultimate Practice Tests, where I got to take my practice exams at the Testing Centers themselves. I did three such exams in the three weeks leading up to the test and the familiarity helped. If you can get this, do it as it helps immensely.

2. Leading up to Test Day: Reviewed all my incorrect answers on my practice tests (both Kaplan and MGMAT tests). It was a great way to refresh my skills. Also stopped partying for a week (which was hell), eat healthy and slept well.

3. Test Day: I scheduled my exam for 12 noon. Good breakfast, brought banana’s and chocolate energy bars with me for the breaks. Checked in around 11:30am and commenced warfare on the test. Came out with a 730.

4. Parting comments:

a. You have to get motivated for this test.

b. Review the OG and other questions that you are getting wrong. I found patterns in almost all of them and the GMAT repeats them all the time (especially wrong answers I was drawn to).

c. Materials:
i. MGMAT Number Properties & Sentence Correction (must have’s, don’t even think of taking the GMAT without reviewing these, they literally gave me over a 100 point boost)
ii. MGMAT Critical Reasoning (interesting book if you are struggling with CR questions)
iii. Kaplan’s online question bank (the ability to pick topic areas of focus is divinely helpful)
iv. OG latest edition (don’t even think of taking the GMAT without reviewing this one)

5. My Practices Scores were as follows:
a. Kaplan CAT 2 620
b. Kaplan CAT 3 650
c. Kaplan CAT 4 710
d. Kaplan CAT 5 650
e. Kaplan CAT 6 710
f. Kaplan CAT 7 760
g. Kaplan CAT 8 650
h. Kaplan CAT 9 740
i. Official GMAT CAT 1 710
j. Official GMAT CAT 2 740

Hope this is helpful.
Kaplan GMAT Prep Discount CodesKnewton GMAT Discount CodesGMAT Pill GMAT Discount Codes
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Re: From 620 to 730 [#permalink] New post 11 Jul 2010, 08:12
Congrats !! Finally you have done it.

Keep us updated with your MBA journey...Good Luck
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Re: From 620 to 730 [#permalink] New post 11 Jul 2010, 11:22
kdomfeh wrote:
Hi guys, I took the test for the second time got a 730 (49 Quant & 40 Verbal). Below is how I did it.

First Test: 620

1. Timeline: I had studied for about 3 months, 6-hours each weekend day and approximately 1 hour during each weekday. My sole resources were Kaplan GMAT course book and later the Kaplan Advanced GMAT book. I later enrolled in Kaplan’s Advanced Classroom Course and purchased the ManhattanGMAT Sentence Correction and Number Properties books.

2. Practice Tests: I took about 7 Kaplan CAT exams and scored from 570 – 710. The problem was that I was under so much pressure with work and studying I knew I wasn’t getting the best out of the course. Although I forced myself to push through the materials, my mental approach had been the GMAT was something I desperately wanted to get out of the way.

3. In January 2010, I took the GMAT. These are the things I did wrong:

a. I chose an 8AM appointment time which was predicated on getting a good night’s rest and starting early. Complete disaster; I burnt out midway through Verbal and knew I made a ton of silly mistakes in quant because I glanced over the detail. Lesson here is this: GMAT focuses on a lot of detail in the questions (especially quant) so take it when you are relaxed and alert.

b. I took four Full length practice tests plus two GMAT Focus test in the week leading up to the exam. Don’t recommend such an intense schedule.

c. Finally, I didn’t review all the verbal questions in the OG. Lesson: review every single one of the verbal questions in the OG. Most importantly, I did them on the side, then find out why I was wrong. A pattern emerged on the CR and SC questions. (Hint: didn’t have time to separately do them and check the answers so I read through the answer explanations but only after I started getting about 90% right. Again, there was a pattern for me).

4. Test result popped up as a 620. I was royally pissed and egotistically bruised. Picked myself up and decided I had to regain my pride.

Second Test: 730

1. Timeline: I started studying again in mid-May, this time I was doing about 2-4 hours each weekday (including at work mind you). Kaplan online and MGMAT helped. You can do their practice sets in an untimed manner so I took full advantage of that. My strategy was as follows:
a. Pick a subject (example CR), then do the first practice of about 30 questions spanning all aspects (i.e. assumptions, weaken, flaws, etc). Then hone in on where I was falling short. I got additional resources including MGMAT CR, Geometry, Equations Inequalities & VICs. I did this for every category and after spending 3-hours reviewing the material and practice sets, I got the fundamentals down.

b. Timing: I discovered that I was spending way too much time on quants because I wanted to solve each one the hard way (aka direct way). I cut my timing into half (with some to spare) by mastering the strategy of Picking Numbers. It is immensely efficient and so easy even a caveman can do it. Kaplan preaches this a lot in case you are looking for a resource. Additionally, I used backsolving as a fall back (another strategy Kaplan preaches a lot). These two strategies ensured I finished my quants with time to spare.

c. Next was getting rid of silly mistakes (like solving for % increase rather than how many times one figure is greater than another). These were killing me, in some practice tests, I could get 8 wrong answers in quant section and 6 of them will be because I didn’t pay attention to the detail (it seemed there was always two questions I was clueless about most of the time). Ok, my way was unorthodox but I combated it by taking four recent CAT exams, analyzing which questions I was getting wrong and discovered a pattern. I was getting about two questions wrong in the high teens (questions 16 – 19), about 3 wrong in the high 20s (26 – 29), and about 3 wrong in the mid 30s. I think I discovered when mental fatigue was kicking in so I slowed down around those areas (use this knowledge as you wish, it helped me eliminate silly mistakes).

d. Finally, Kaplan’s program had this feature called the Ultimate Practice Tests, where I got to take my practice exams at the Testing Centers themselves. I did three such exams in the three weeks leading up to the test and the familiarity helped. If you can get this, do it as it helps immensely.

2. Leading up to Test Day: Reviewed all my incorrect answers on my practice tests (both Kaplan and MGMAT tests). It was a great way to refresh my skills. Also stopped partying for a week (which was hell), eat healthy and slept well.

3. Test Day: I scheduled my exam for 12 noon. Good breakfast, brought banana’s and chocolate energy bars with me for the breaks. Checked in around 11:30am and commenced warfare on the test. Came out with a 730.

4. Parting comments:

a. You have to get motivated for this test.

b. Review the OG and other questions that you are getting wrong. I found patterns in almost all of them and the GMAT repeats them all the time (especially wrong answers I was drawn to).

c. Materials:
i. MGMAT Number Properties & Sentence Correction (must have’s, don’t even think of taking the GMAT without reviewing these, they literally gave me over a 100 point boost)
ii. MGMAT Critical Reasoning (interesting book if you are struggling with CR questions)
iii. Kaplan’s online question bank (the ability to pick topic areas of focus is divinely helpful)
iv. OG latest edition (don’t even think of taking the GMAT without reviewing this one)

5. My Practices Scores were as follows:
a. Kaplan CAT 2 620
b. Kaplan CAT 3 650
c. Kaplan CAT 4 710
d. Kaplan CAT 5 650
e. Kaplan CAT 6 710
f. Kaplan CAT 7 760
g. Kaplan CAT 8 650
h. Kaplan CAT 9 740
i. Official GMAT CAT 1 710
j. Official GMAT CAT 2 740

Hope this is helpful.


Great write-up! Congrats!!!
Manager
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Re: From 620 to 730 [#permalink] New post 11 Jul 2010, 11:27
Congrats with the excellent score! :)
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Re: From 620 to 730 [#permalink] New post 11 Jul 2010, 12:48
Awesome post. I am going through the same phase and I am writing my test at the end of August. Good to know you got an awesome score :)
Intern
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Re: From 620 to 730 [#permalink] New post 11 Jul 2010, 13:06
Congrats on your score. I took my first pre-studying CAT and got a 550. Hoping to boost it much closer to 700 in the coming weeks. Other than Number Properties, what would you recommend for a person who struggles with the Quant section a lot?
Manager
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Re: From 620 to 730 [#permalink] New post 11 Jul 2010, 13:42
I'm beginning to think that the GMAC is lying when it says retakers don't really improve their grades. I don't know why they do - saying that it does possibly increases taking numbers. Retakers, we can do this! Kdomfeh, thanks for the inspiration!
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Re: From 620 to 730 [#permalink] New post 14 Jul 2010, 02:03
Congratulations on your score and thank you for sharing you experience with us. Could you please answer the following questions:

1) You took a lot of practice CATs. How did it help you? Do you think that this number of practice CATs is optimal?
2) Could you please describe your study routine in greater detail?
3) How confident did you feel on the test day?

Quote:
I think I discovered when mental fatigue was kicking in so I slowed down around those areas


4) How much did you slow down? Does it mean that you had to speed up on first questions?
5) Was it a difficult transformation from solving problems to find the answer to plucking in numbers?

Thank you.
Manager
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Status: Prepping for a Re-take?
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Re: From 620 to 730 [#permalink] New post 14 Jul 2010, 04:36
Great post. I'm in the process of gathering materials to begin studying for the GMAT, so posts like these are really interesting to me. This weekend I think I'll take a practice CAT to get a baseline of where I am.

Again, great post, and great job on improving your score.
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Re: From 620 to 730 [#permalink] New post 14 Jul 2010, 05:40
Nonameee, my responses to your questions are below.

1) You took a lot of practice CATs. How did it help you? Do you think that this number of practice CATs is optimal?
==> About half-way through the practice tests, I begun to use them for reinforcing my weaknesses. My kaplan program recommends areas of improvement and I attacked it with gusto. Optimal number of CATs is relative. I took them until I felt ready.

2) Could you please describe your study routine in greater detail?
==> Most important is after each CAT I spent up to the next 3 days reviewing questions, reviewing/studying the concepts and doing as many practice questions on them until I felt comfortable. I also made my study sessions intense (2 -3 hours at a time) to simulate the stamina required for the test.

3) How confident did you feel on the test day?
==> Highly confident. This was all due to feeling I'd had done the ground work and solid on the concepts.

Quote:
"I think I discovered when mental fatigue was kicking in so I slowed down around those areas"


4) How much did you slow down? Does it mean that you had to speed up on first questions?

==> For me, slowing down was taking five-deep breaths (you can pick the number of times you want) with my eyes closed and stretching my arms. The key was to halt the built up momentum and re-engage with a clear focused mind. Metaphorically, think of it as a pit stop in a Formula One race. My breaks took no more than 8-seconds.

5) Was it a difficult transformation from solving problems to find the answer to plucking in numbers?

==> Not a bit. The tricky part I found was making the initial decision. Sometimes, I found myself debating whether to use picking numbers or a direct approach. To cure this irritation, I looked through my practice set and where possible, timed myself for say a set of 20 Qs using picking numbers and the direct approach. I repeated this on one off questions as well and found that I was answering questions much faster with better accuracy on the hard ones using picking numbers. It also helped me identify which questions were prime candidates for picking numbers.
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Re: From 620 to 730 [#permalink] New post 14 Jul 2010, 13:23
Quote:
==> Not a bit. The tricky part I found was making the initial decision. Sometimes, I found myself debating whether to use picking numbers or a direct approach. To cure this irritation, I looked through my practice set and where possible, timed myself for say a set of 20 Qs using picking numbers and the direct approach. I repeated this on one off questions as well and found that I was answering questions much faster with better accuracy on the hard ones using picking numbers. It also helped me identify which questions were prime candidates for picking numbers.


So how many sets did you use to determine the strategy of when to pick up numbers and when to solve the problem directly?

Also, you mentioned that Kaplan teaches that approach. Is it covered in greater detail? Does the approach differ for different types of questions or is it the same for all types?
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Re: From 620 to 730 [#permalink] New post 15 Jul 2010, 23:37
gr88 feedback n CONGRATS.. U mus b a really happy guy now ! Ur hardwork finally paid off!
.. i hav mine on july22nd...
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GMAT 2: 710 Q50 V35
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Re: From 620 to 730 [#permalink] New post 17 Jul 2010, 13:22
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Re: From 620 to 730 [#permalink] New post 23 Jul 2010, 09:36
Thank you so much, I am right at this point in my study prep and your comments have helped me immensely, especially about the timing and fatigue, and deciding not to take my exam at 8am. Congrats on your great score!
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Re: From 620 to 730 [#permalink] New post 23 Jul 2010, 18:16
ssowmya2108 how did your GMAT test go?
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Re: From 620 to 730   [#permalink] 23 Jul 2010, 18:16
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