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From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief

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From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 15 Dec 2010, 23:57
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Hello everyone

I took the GMAT yesterday and scored a respectable 730 (51/40) :-D . This was my 2nd shot at the test and I'll discuss my strategies at the end of this post; before that here's a quick summary of the books i used and my practice test scores:

Books used:

OGs 10, 11 & 12

SC - MGMAT SC Guide, Aristotle SC Grail, 1000 SCs (did around 300)

CR - Powerscore CR Bible, LSAT questions

RC - Aristotle RC


Practice Test Scores (over the period Nov. 20th - Dec 14th)

MGMAT 1 - 690
MGMAT 2 - 720
MGMAT 3 - 680
MGMAT 4 - 730
MGMAT 5 - 750
MGMAT 6 - 730
Kaplan Free Test - 750
Princeton Free Test - 710
Knewton Free Test - 720
GMATPrep 1 - 770 (not representative since I remembered a lot of the answers from my earlier attempt)
GMATPrep 2 - 780 (not representative since I remembered a lot of the answers from my earlier attempt)


Detailed Debrief & Strategies:

Background - I had taken the GMAT in Sept 2010 and scored a dismal 630 (50/28). My target score was 700+ so I was definitely going to retake but before that I wanted to make sure I figured out what aspects of the test to approach differently. Quant was never a problem for me and in verbal I was quite comfortable with CR. My two problem areas were SC & RC. In my first attempt my one major weakness had been timing in the verbal section since I could just attempt around 35 questions and guess on the remaining 5-6. Specially in SC I was taking an average of around 2 minutes to get to the answer.

I had primarily used MGMAT SC Guide for my SC prep the first time around and while it is an excellent book in my case it made me too conscious of trying to find out what was wrong with every option. This obviously meant i was taking too much time on SC and combined with my lack of practice in RC, this spelled disaster for me.

SC Strategy - During my 2nd attempt I decided to refer to some other material as well for SC and came across two options on the GMATclub forums- egmat and Aristotle SC Grail . I was on a tight budget having to take the test twice and i had read good things abt the SC Grail book (and it was cheap at $15 :lol: ) so i thought i would give it a try. Turned out to be a great decision 'coz this bok summarizes what the GMAT will test you on in a very crisp manner and provides you with shortcuts to get to the answer in less than a minute. Overall I think MGMAT and SC Grail are more than enough for your SC prep.

CR Strategy - Nothing specific since I never really had any problems in CR. Since I had already finished the OGs in my first attempt, I did a lot of LSAT practice questions though I am not a big fan of these.

RC Strategy - The other problem area for me (and most students) and simply because its too boring and one just doesn't feel like practicing it. But as I have realised the only way to improve RC is by doing as many practice passages as you can, specially the long boring ones. Here I have a major grouse with most test prep companies because they spend pages discussing RC strategy but don't give you enough practice passages. The ones that do (like the OGs) ask too many questions whereas on the GMAT the idea is to skim through the passages since there won't be more than 3-4 questions from each. The only decent practice material i have come across is the Aristotle RC which provides you with good quality passages (avg. 3-4 questions each) some of which are really difficult. I religiously did each one of these passages and this has a numbing effect on me in the sense that i stopped bothering abt the 'boring' part of it and started approaching the questions in a very practical (almost mechanical) manner. Helped me big time and I recommend it to everyone. If you can do these you won't need anything else for RC believe me.

I spent the last 3-4 weeks only doing full length tests (had bought the Manhattan 6-test package for this and some other free tests). Another mistake that I had made the first time around was not spending enough time analysing the tests; this time i spent more time analysing the tests than taking them and this actually helps specially by revealing trends in the questions that you are getting wrong. For example after 3-4 tests I realised that i was consistently making mistakes on 'Modification' questions in SC so I went back to Manhattan and refreshed my knowledge of Modifiers.

One final word on mental strength - Test day 'nerves' play a major role in pulling down your score as no matter how confident you are the occassion does tend to get to you. Don't know how you can avoid this except to be prepared for it, though this gets better in the 2nd attempt (at least it did for me), probably because you've been there once so you know what to expect.

All in all it turned out well for me in the end :) . Would love to address any specific queries.

Cheers!
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Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 16 Dec 2010, 05:17
Excellent score dude congratulations. Just ahd a couple of questions i gave the test just like 2 days ago as well for the second attempt, first attempt was 2 years ago just to check how i do no major prep that time got a 560. This time i busted my ass off for 3 months and i still got 620:( although on the last 4 practice tests i got an average of 710, you mention stress i got really freaked out a day before the test, test day was ok, i guess everybody does feel a little bit of nerves but i just couldnt make the cut, i guess i put too much pressure on myslef to crack taht 700, some advice would be helpful.

cheers
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Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 16 Dec 2010, 08:12
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Very good debrief: kudo from me.
Thank for that, interesting experience.
I wish you all the best for your applications.
Cheers
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Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 16 Dec 2010, 08:14
Congrats!

Good luck in future endeavors
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Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 16 Dec 2010, 08:40
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shovitdhar wrote:
Hello everyone

I took the GMAT yesterday and scored a respectable 730 (51/40) :-D . This was my 2nd shot at the test and I'll discuss my strategies at the end of this post; before that here's a quick summary of the books i used and my practice test scores:

Books used:

OGs 10, 11 & 12

SC - MGMAT SC Guide, Aristotle SC Grail, 1000 SCs (did around 300)

CR - Powerscore CR Bible, LSAT questions

RC - Aristotle RC99


Practice Test Scores (over the period Nov. 20th - Dec 14th)

MGMAT 1 - 690
MGMAT 2 - 720
MGMAT 3 - 680
MGMAT 4 - 730
MGMAT 5 - 750
MGMAT 6 - 730
Kaplan Free Test - 750
Princeton Free Test - 710
Knewton Free Test - 720
GMATPrep 1 - 770 (not representative since I remembered a lot of the answers from my earlier attempt)
GMATPrep 2 - 780 (not representative since I remembered a lot of the answers from my earlier attempt)


Detailed Debrief & Strategies:

Background - I had taken the GMAT in Sept 2010 and scored a dismal 630 (50/28). My target score was 700+ so I was definitely going to retake but before that I wanted to make sure I figured out what aspects of the test to approach differently. Quant was never a problem for me and in verbal I was quite comfortable with CR. My two problem areas were SC & RC. In my first attempt my one major weakness had been timing in the verbal section since I could just attempt around 35 questions and guess on the remaining 5-6. Specially in SC I was taking an average of around 2 minutes to get to the answer.

I had primarily used MGMAT SC Guide for my SC prep the first time around and while it is an excellent book in my case it made me too conscious of trying to find out what was wrong with every option. This obviously meant i was taking too much time on SC and combined with my lack of practice in RC, this spelled disaster for me.

SC Strategy - During my 2nd attempt I decided to refer to some other material as well for SC and came across two options on the GMATclub forums- egmat and Aristotle SC Grail . I was on a tight budget having to take the test twice and i had read good things abt the SC Grail book (and it was cheap at $15 :lol: ) so i thought i would give it a try. Turned out to be a great decision 'coz this bok summarizes what the GMAT will test you on in a very crisp manner and provides you with shortcuts to get to the answer in less than a minute. Overall I think MGMAT and SC Grail are more than enough for your SC prep.

CR Strategy - Nothing specific since I never really had any problems in CR. Since I had already finished the OGs in my first attempt, I did a lot of LSAT practice questions though I am not a big fan of these.

RC Strategy - The other problem area for me (and most students) and simply because its too boring and one just doesn't feel like practicing it. But as I have realised the only way to improve RC is by doing as many practice passages as you can, specially the long boring ones. Here I have a major grouse with most test prep companies because they spend pages discussing RC strategy but don't give you enough practice passages. The ones that do (like the OGs) ask too many questions whereas on the GMAT the idea is to skim through the passages since there won't be more than 3-4 questions from each. The only decent practice material i have come across is the RC99 which provides you with 99 boring passages (avg. 3-4 questions each) some of which are really difficult. I religiously did each one of these passages (3 passages a day x 33 days) and this has a numbing effect on you in the sense that i stopped bothering abt the 'boring' part of it and started approaching the questions in a very practical (almost mechanical) manner. Helped me big time and I recommend it to everyone but only if you are willing to do all 99 passages (requires a lot of discipline, specially in the initial stages). If you can do these you won't need anything else for RC believe me.

I spent the last 3-4 weeks only doing full length tests (had bought the Manhattan 6-test package for this and some other free tests). Another mistake that I had made the first time around was not spending enough time analysing the tests; this time i spent more time analysing the tests than taking them and this actually helps specially by revealing trends in the questions that you are getting wrong. For example after 3-4 tests I realised that i was consistently making mistakes on 'Modification' questions in SC so I went back to Manhattan and refreshed my knowledge of Modifiers.

One final word on mental strength - Test day 'nerves' play a major role in pulling down your score as no matter how confident you are the occassion does tend to get to you. Don't know how you can avoid this except to be prepared for it, though this gets better in the 2nd attempt (at least it did for me), probably because you've been there once so you know what to expect.

All in all it turned out well for me in the end :) . Would love to address any specific queries.

Cheers!



WOW!!!
Awesome score.
Party time. All the best for your an application.
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Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 16 Dec 2010, 18:34
Congrats on your score! Good improvement.

Good luck

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Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 17 Dec 2010, 20:44
Thanks guys :-D

asiddiqi86 wrote:
.... i got really freaked out a day before the test, test day was ok, i guess everybody does feel a little bit of nerves but i just couldnt make the cut, i guess i put too much pressure on myslef to crack taht 700, some advice would be helpful.

cheers


I know what you are talking about pal but I'm not really sure how to avoid feeling nervous. The one thing I've noticed is that a lot of people go in the denial mode just before the test, telling themselves (and everybody else) that they aren't feeling nervous at all. That is rubbish I think because it is completely normal to feel nervous but the thing is not to let this nervousness get the better of you. If you start accepting the fact that nervousness is fine you'll start to see improvement in your performance. I'm sure even Tendulkar must be nervous before every innings, so its how u channelize that nervousness which actually matters in the end. Dunno if this makes too much sense :roll:

Good luck with ur prep!
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Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 22 Dec 2010, 05:55
Awesome score. Good luck for the applications.
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Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 23 Dec 2010, 00:58
Congratulations,dude!
Very good improvement. Are you planning to apply for Fall 2011 or Fall 2012 ?
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Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 23 Dec 2010, 08:39
Congratulations and indeed an informative debrief!
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Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 26 Dec 2010, 08:41
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Thanks guys :-D

rishiraj wrote:
Congratulations,dude!
Very good improvement. Are you planning to apply for Fall 2011 or Fall 2012 ?


I am looking at Fall 2011. Targeting some schools in R2 so currently busy with the essays :(
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Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 26 Dec 2010, 10:14
Congratulations! You got a really good score; especially the 51 Quant score! Which schools are you considering?
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Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 27 Dec 2010, 03:42
Thanks for sharing !

I am in a similar position : I took the gmat in october and I scored 640 (50Q , 27V)

What was the best RC strategy for you ? Did you read all the text and then answered the questions or just skimmed the text ?

Could you also tell us for how many hours approximately did you prepare for the retake ?

thank you !
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Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 27 Dec 2010, 09:37
Thank you for the debrief
kudos:)
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Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 27 Dec 2010, 10:18
Great debrief and awesome Score. Congragulations!!!

I'm considering buying SC grail :idea: now after reading a few good reviews about it here on this site.
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Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 27 Dec 2010, 14:58
Great debrief and awesome Score. Congrats!!!

I'm also buying SC grail and RC99 after read your success story. Thank you very much for your suggestions.

Thanks, Vasu.
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Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 29 Dec 2010, 03:08
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Thanks heygirl and seeni and good luck to both of you. :thumbup:

Quote:
What was the best RC strategy for you ? Did you read all the text and then answered the questions or just skimmed the text ?

Could you also tell us for how many hours approximately did you prepare for the retake ?


I used to first spend around 2-3 minutes on the passage to get an idea of what each para was speaking about broadly. Then I used to hit the questions and keep moving to and fro between the passage and the questions.

I had decided that more than the total no. of hours I'll stress on consistent practice so I did 2-3 hrs without fail everyday. Also I did each of the 99 passages in the RC99 (and some of them were really difficult) but trust me it really helped on the actual exam as in I did not get nervous even if I got a long difficult passage since I knew I had done such passages before.

Good luck to you :)
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Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 29 Dec 2010, 07:36
Wow! Wish i had such a heavyweight score like yours!! congratulations!
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Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 02 Jan 2011, 06:02
gmatpapa wrote:
Wow! Wish i had such a heavyweight score like yours!! congratulations!


Thanks pal though it doesn't feel that heavyweight given all the 750+ scores I keep seeing in this section :lol:

And good luck to you :thumbup:
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Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 02 Jan 2011, 17:59
nice! great improvement
Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief   [#permalink] 02 Jan 2011, 17:59
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