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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, 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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If you find the post useful, don't be shy and Kudo me ;)

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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 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 01 Feb 2011, 21:31
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gurpreetsingh wrote:
Awesome improvement +1.

Kindly elaborate more on verbal, especially SC and RC, not in the terms of material you have used but in the terms of strategy.
Eg. how differently you approached the SC and RC questions.
how you solved RC99? in time mode?

Thanks.

SC- In my first attempt I was paying a lot of attention to pinpointing what was the error in the original question and what was wrong with each option. While this helped in building my concepts the flip side was that I ended up reading every option completely and my timing went for a complete toss. In some cases even though I was sure of the answer I still ended up going through all the options, at times confusing myself in the process. The SC Grail actually introduced me to the idea of 'Reading Vertically' and I think it worked brilliantly in terms of saving time and staying focussed. I am absolutely convinced now that if you are reading all the options in a SC question you are wasting your time.

RC - In my first attempt the problem was simple lack of practice. I found RC too boring so did very few passages and that too from my comfort area. As a result I was completely flummoxed by some of the passages in the actual test. As I have mentioned in my first post on this thread the best and perhaps the only way to improve RC is to practice as many passages as you can and from across subject areas. Just make sure the passages and the questions are representative of those on the GMAT.

Let me know in case you have any specific queries.
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Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 11 Mar 2011, 06:54
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Mongolia2HBS wrote:
Awesome improvement,
This is my mark for this thread! will read through this again.


Thank you. Am glad that you found the post helpful. Wish you all the best!
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Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 11 May 2011, 02:37
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@dehi123
When you prepare, you should put things in this order -Master the content and then build speed. Think of it this way, suppose you are just learning Mandarin, and then you happen to meet a Chinese,would you be able to speak Mandarin flawlessly ? Probably not, because you wouldn't have probably grasped the language properly and practiced it by speaking day in and day out.
If you're struggling with speed, that means that probably you should focus on two things-become better at concepts and read a lot of complex texts. I think the second point is very important. When I had taken the GMAT the first time, I think I was fairly good in concepts but where I lacked was the comprehension on complex sentences .As a result I faced difficulty not only in RCs, but also in CRs and SC questions-especially those kind of long SC questions where you'll be left with two sentences which will be grammatically correct and you'd have to select the option which conveys the right meaning.
I highly recommend that you start reading The Economist,and the scientific American religiously alongwith the regular preparation which you do. I think that should be help a great deal!

Regarding whether 690 is a good score for the top 50 schools, yes it is! 690 maynot be a great score for the top 10 but is sufficient for the rest of the schools in the top 50. That's my personal opinion.
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Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 15 Mar 2012, 09:52
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gmatgaga wrote:
@shovit
Are you done with your ISB interview ?And how did it go ?


Did not make it through ISB :( :( Got an admit from GLIM though but chances are good that I may not join it. I'd love to hear from someone who thinks that why I should join GLIM. It's program is starting from 14th April so dont have much time to decide.
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Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 27 Mar 2012, 21:49
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Update: After talking to a couple of alumni and current students at GLIM, I have decided to not join it. Seems like the college is good primarily for IT placements. Though that means waiting for another year but I'm in no hurry either. Need to work on my profile and several other things.
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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, 08:14
Congrats!

Good luck in future endeavors
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Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief [#permalink] New post 16 Dec 2010, 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, 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.
Re: From 630 -> 730 - Mission Accomplished....Detailed Debrief   [#permalink] 27 Dec 2010, 10:18
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