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From 640 to 690: My GMAT Journey

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Joined: 10 Jun 2012
Posts: 6
GMAT 1: 640 Q48 V31
GMAT 2: 690 Q47 V38
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From 640 to 690: My GMAT Journey [#permalink] New post 14 Dec 2013, 18:14
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I promise not to make this longwinded, and I'll be short and sweet with this post. I'm mostly a lurker of this forum but I wanted to share my GMAT experience because I feel like I've learned a lot about myself on this 1.5 year journey from when I first decided I was going to start prepping for the GMAT to now. For the record, I am a native speaker.

Let me start by saying that I'm not blessed with great test taking ability. Standardized tests are not my friends and I knew that if I wanted to do well, I had to put in a lot of time and effort. I ignored friends, family, and many other people while I prepped, but it was a small short term sacrifice for a long term goal. I've wanted to go to a great B-school since I was in college and now I'm onto the next phase in the process (I have a few years til I'm going to apply).

I don't want to write too much, but here is my practice test history from my first sitting of the GMAT to my GMAT retake (over the span of a 3 month prep):

GMAT #1 - 640 (Q48, V31), IR - 6/8, Essay - 5.5/6 (May 2013)
Power Prep - 710 (Q48, V40) (Sept 2013)
MGMAT #1 - 640 (Q40,V37)
MGMAT #2 - 650 (Q44 V35)
MGMAT #3 - 670 (Q42 V39)
MGMAT #4 - 650 (Q44 V35)
GMAT Prep #1 - 680 (Q47 V37)
GMAT Prep #3 - 710 (Q47 V40)
GMAT Prep #4 - 710 (Q47 V40)

GMAT #2 (Retake) - 690 (Q47 V38), IR - 8/8, AWA - 6/6 (Dec 2013)


And now here are the top 10 things I did to improve my score from my first GMAT to my retake:

1. Fixed my pacing. The easiest way to do this is to use the TIME/QUESTION GRID (ie, on question 10 of math, I should have 53 mins left, on question 19 I should have 37 mins left, etc, etc). I can't tell you how much this had helped me during my practice tests. DO THIS FOR EVERY PRACTICE TEST YOU TAKE and then it becomes second nature on the actual test.

2. Got really, really good at sentence correction. You would think that, since I majored in engineering in school, that I would be better at Critical Reasoning. Nope, definitely NOT the case. It was always a weakness for me, but getting really good at sentence correction gave me more time on the exam to focus on critical reasoning questions. Try to get 90% of all sentence correction questions you see correct.

3. Studied only official GMAT questions and took only official GMAT prep practice exams 1 month out from my exam. Do ALL the official material that you can get your hands on - question pack, exam pack - all of it. While Manhattan questions are good, they are subtle differences that make official questions, OFFICIAL questions (if you get what I mean).

4. Took a practice exam EVERY weekend 2 months until my actual exam. DO NOT underestimate the stamina you need for this test. After taking 9-10 practice exams, taking the real test in 3.5 hours seemed like a breeze.

5. Didn't put as much stock into my Manhattan Quant scores. Face it, Manhattan quant questions are damn hard and calculation intensive. While they are good practice if you need harder quant material, they aren't reflective of the GMAT quant. Verbal is (almost) spot on.

6. Eventually, I had been prepping for the GMAT so long that I started to 'guess' correctly on some questions. I don't know what it is but eventually you just have a feeling about an answer without rhyme or reason. This point may not be very helpful, but if you see enough practice problems, you'll see what I mean (or maybe not).

7. Get into a routine and stick with it. I studied 2 hours after work everyday and reviewed all my notes and material on my commute from and to work EVERYDAY. I studied 6-8 hours on the weekends. Eventually it became second nature - I had to reach my alotted study time for that day.

8. Didn't study IR or the essay the second time around. Fully focused on verbal and maintained/sharpened my math. The return on investment for studying IR or the essay is minimal, especially if you are native speaker. Just do some official IR practice problems and once you get comfortable with the types of problems they can throw at you, you'll be fine.

9. Didn't schedule my exam until I was consistently scoring within my target range (680 and above). This is HUGE change in my approach from the first time to this time. At the beginning of my first 3.5 month prep, I scheduled my exam 3 months out. I had a deadline to hit. But this go around, I didn't schedule it until I knew I was able to hit my score consistently. I knew I was ready last Saturday when I scored 710 on my final practice test and scheduled it 10 minutes after.

10. Relaxed on test day and the days leading up. The most important point in my opinion on my list. I didn't put alot of pressure on myself this go-around. I knew I was ready. I felt confident about everything. I was a machine on test day, just DO, don't FEEL.

And so this concludes my GMAT journey. Back to lurking I go (feel free to ask me anything about my prep). But when I start applying to Business Schools in 2015, I will definitely become a more active member of this forum.

Lastly I want to thank GMATClub - honestly what you guys have in this forum is something special. I've frequented this forum EVERYDAY during my prep and it was such a critical tool for my success on this exam. I can't thank you guys enough.

Peace out,

Tuffy.

Last edited by BigTuffy on 02 Jan 2014, 18:06, edited 1 time in total.
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Manager
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Status: Work hard in silence, let success make the noise
Joined: 25 Nov 2013
Posts: 160
Location: India
Concentration: Finance, General Management
GMAT 1: 540 Q50 V15
GMAT 2: 640 Q50 V27
GPA: 3.11
WE: Consulting (Computer Software)
Followers: 5

Kudos [?]: 24 [0], given: 84

Re: From 640 to 690: My GMAT Journey [#permalink] New post 15 Dec 2013, 21:31
Congratulations on a great score.
Thanks for sharing your debrief. This will help many members of the forum especially me.
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Sahil Chaudhary
If you find this post helpful, please take a moment to click on the "+1 KUDOS" icon.
My IELTS 7.5 Experience
From 540 to 640...Done with GMAT!!!
http://www.sahilchaudhary007.blogspot.com

Intern
Intern
avatar
Joined: 10 Jun 2012
Posts: 6
GMAT 1: 640 Q48 V31
GMAT 2: 690 Q47 V38
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 1 [0], given: 0

Re: From 640 to 690: My GMAT Journey [#permalink] New post 21 Dec 2013, 13:38
You are quite welcome, always willing to help out other GMAT Club members. The GMAT journey is long, taxing endeavor but it can also be a personal growing experience as well.
Re: From 640 to 690: My GMAT Journey   [#permalink] 21 Dec 2013, 13:38
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