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From 650 to 740: My Story. [#permalink]
28 Oct 2010, 08:22
This post received KUDOS
I took the GMAT on the 26th October for the second time. Scored 740 (Q:50 / V: 40/ AWA: 5.0). Here goes the debrief of a long relationship between me and GMAT.
Let me first describe my profile. I am a software engineer from India and completed my bachelors in engineering in 2009 and have been working for the last one year or so. I had some time between graduating middle of last year and starting to work end of last year. I always wanted to do an MBA from a world class university and hence started preparing for the GMAT,as the scores are valid for 5 years, which will give me enough time to gain some valuable work-ex and then applying for an MBA(preferably in fall 2012).
So with this motivation in heart and determination in mind I started my preparation for the GMAT around September 2009. Started with Quant, which I felt was my strength as I was an engineer and always loved Math. As expected, I felt prepared for Quant soon. Then I started preparing for verbal,which I heard from many people is a pain. Anyways I just went through the GMAT Grammar basics and practiced a few sentence correction questions after which I gave a MGMAT test. My guide told me that he was expecting 500. I scored 540(Dont quite remember the dynamics of Quant and verbal as more than a year passed after giving this test). It was after this that I started practicing questions from OG-12. As expected Quant was a breeze, but verbal was surprisingly a bit too difficult. My accuracy in verbal was barely 50%. But anyways, I wasnt discouraged and started to take things as they came. Practicing from OG-12 and a few other sources was going on when I first encountered the GMAT Prep software. Attracted by the prospect of giving a test(I dont know why but I felt a bit of euphoria with the thought of giving the test, probably as I had just given one mock test), I went ahead and gave the test. I was expecting another score in the 500's but saw a pleasant score of 670. I was like...is this software reliable? Then I came to know that it is the most reliable software as far as the GMAT score is concerned.This increased my confidence tremendously and the possibility of scoring 700+ gave me that extra kick. But then a big turn around took place. I was placed in a reputed IT company and suddenly and unexpectedly, I got a joining date,which was just 15 days away. I felt,there goes my plan of giving the GMAT before joining the company. Anyways, I found heart and felt that I should be able to appear for the test in January if I could manage around 2 hours of GMAT study time each day. Unfortunately, the initial job based training took out nearly 11 hours out of my day's time and the 13 hours remaining each day was used in traveling across Mumbai(to and fro between office and residence) and other stuff.Somehow, I still managed to study a bit in weekends. Even though I wasnt able to increase my capability, I was successful in atleast keeping my capability where it was.
At that time I felt that once when the training would be over, I will be able to devote more time. But to my surprise, the responsibility on me just kept on increasing and I felt that if I dont take the test soon, all the hard work I had put in for nearly an year would be gone in the dumps. I found a slight leeway throughout July and hence opted to take the test on 28th July 2010.
First test experience : Started preparing a bit intensely end of June,the time I joined this amazing forum. Studied for around 2 hours each day and gave one GMAT Prep test each week.Preparations were going fine till the time when I started to get unusually nervous. Generally, I am a cool guy and it takes a lot to make me tensed and nervous. But for some unknown reason, I took the test a bit too seriously for my liking. I read through various stories of people taking the test doing X,Y and Z and I tried to follow all those. Stuff, such as not studying much in the last week, taking Gatorade, splashing water on the face etc. ,influenced me and I decided to do the same.But all such stuff just succeeded in making me even more nervous and tensed. One big mistake I was committing was that in the mock tests, I wasnt attempting the AWA section.Though the scores were in the range of 700-750, as I didnt attempt the AWA section, the scores werent the real predicting factors of my readiness especially considering the long and tedious format of the GMAT.Though I wasnt at my confident best, I chose not to cancel or postpone the test and to give the test on the day chosen as after that my work would keep me busy. I dont know whether this was a smart decision or not now that I retrospect, but at that time it was the only option. It was only during the actual test that I was attempting the AWA for the first time and this was my undoing. Towards the end of my verbal section, I wasnt even able to read the entire argument or sentence well and this took a lot of time. An already long story short, I performed poorly. Outcome : 650(Q: 49 V: 27).Tremendously below par for me.
1) Attempting the AWA section in the mock tests as this increases endurance and stamina. In the subsequent mock attempts, I didnt stress on the essays just ensured that I feel like I have already given some part of the test before the 1st question of quant.
2) Following your own routine which has worked well for most part of 2 decades. All of us might have given innumerable tests so far and followed specific patterns. But still some fools like me try to copy someone else' method and hope to do well. I realized it a tad too late that all bodies are not the same and that some patterns work with some people while dont work with the rest. So follow the pattern and the methodology which works for you.
3) RELAX. Afterall GMAT is just a test,not a life changer as some people feel. Take it as a challenge not a burden. It was then that I started enjoying studying. SC questions became less annoying and I suddenly began to read the CR questions better.
4) Mental conditioning : I cannot stress how important this really is. GMAT is a very exhaustive test and going through the 4 hours can be very very tedious. I would advice all to just follow methods which work for you to be in the best state you can be in the test.
Second test experience : Work took precedence for a while and I could allot only about 1 hour each week day for study and around 3 hours each weekend. Things went this way till October mid.I had decided that I wont be making the mistake of taking the test date a month in advance as it will give me an opportunity to get anxious. So I gave a GMAT Prep(I was giving this test for the 9th time I feel) on 18th October and scored a 760. Something hit me and I felt that I should give the test on 26th. I dont know how did I come to this date. I,by nature, am a spiritual person and I have full faith in the supreme being. 17th was Dasara(a Hindu festival) and I felt I got the date straight from God. Also, 26th too was a religious day and I felt it was good omen to give the test. I immediately checked whether that date was available. To my disappointment, it wasnt. 25th was available and so was 27th and 28th. But not 26th. I left the thought and started my routine again. Something again hit me on 21st and I again checked mba.com for the dates. To my surprise 26th 10 am was available. Without too much fuss and thinking, I just took the date and scheduled this appointment. I guess this helped as I didnt find the time nor the inclination to get nervous.
I again gave a test on 24th at 10 am and mimicked the test conditions as much as possible. I also wore the same clothes I was to wear in the actual test. Scored 760 again. Felt confident and just relaxed for the rest day and a half before the test day. To say that I didnt feel any pangs before the test day would be an understatement. I was a bit nervous but I told myself that I am just appearing this mock test tomorrow. I meditated, met my partner in the evening and went for dinner with family the day before. I slept well and got up early next morning raring to go. I offered my prayers, ate oats for breakfast and zoomed into the test center,which is only a couple of kilometers away from my place.
Reached there half an hour early. People had already come there and were ready to check in. I completed my procedures and was ready for the test. Finished the Argument section in 15 mins or so and rushed into the issue section. Finished that in 15 minutes too. But I somehow didnt feel like rushing now. So decided to just keep sitting there staring at the screen and smiling at the CCTV camera above me. Then in about 10 mins or so, I felt bored and opted for the break. I didnt drink gatorade but drank the good old water. Went into the washroom, stretched a little on coming back and went to the window, which had a small opening, in the center. There was a cool Merc car parked and I couldnt help but admire it. I even forgot that I m here for the test. Went back and noticed I had some 2 minutes to go.
Quant went fine. I somehow was worried in the middle of the section as I was not getting harder questions. I would say the questions were of an slight lower level than in GMATPrep too. But I somehow convinced myself that all I can do is focus on the question on the screen and try to solve it. So thats what I did and finished the section with about 4 minutes to go. Usually I finish my Quant about 1-2 minutes before time on GMAT Prep. So this got me a bit worried. I took the break. I ate some biscuits Mom had given me and drank water. Went to the washroom, stretched a little and again began looking at that beautiful Merc model. Then stretched a little when luckily the examiner called me and told that my break was getting over. So I rushed to the PC and found that only 30 seconds remained for the start of verbal. I heaved a sigh of relief and thought how lucky I was and thanked the examiner.
Verbal started well. In all the tests I had attempted, most of the time I finish verbal well before time. Even in my previous GMAT attempt I finished verbal around 9 minutes before time. I decided to take some time in solving questions. So everything was going fine till I guess the 23rd question when I looked at the watch which said 21 minutes remaining. I panicked a little and started rushing. Then a huge setback in the form of a big RC passage. Somehow skimmed and answered the questions,of which I now wonder how many were right. Then around the 33rd question again a big RC passage and the clock was showing 8 minutes. There were about 5 paras and 5-6 lines in each para. I just skimmed through the lines at a rate of knots and answered the questions. I expect I got just 1 right out of the 4. Then again encountered a CR question at no 38. Clock showing 2 mins. Wondered why is the clock running so fast. Just randomly marked answers for 38,39 and came to a simple CR question at 40. I was demoralized. Took a minute or so and marked an answer. Question no 41 was one of the simplest SC question one can get. It was a small sentence where the underlined part was one of the most basic idioms( cant disclose it coz of the GMAC Policy) . I was bitterly annoyed at myself and began expecting another 650 around score. Zipped through the profile information, chose Report scores and hit Next. Saw 740(97 %ile). Q: 50(93 %ile) and V: 40(89 %ile). I just kept looking at the screen for a couple of minutes. Then I was about to jump in the air. But somehow controlled myself, thanked the almighty, and left the center. Came out, switched on my phone and messaged my partner and parents about the scores. My partner called and expressed her happiness. That felt nice. Mom and Dad called and congratulated me. Their happiness meant more to me than the score itself.
I want to thank the almighty, my family, my partner and friends who were with me throughout. Also this amazing forum, which gives us access to read the minds of some experts. This has been an unusually long debrief. Sorry for that. All you guys are welcome to ask any questions about my preparation and also about GMAT in general. Thanks once again. Will need your help during application too.
Re: From 650 to 740: My Story. [#permalink]
30 Oct 2010, 02:49
a quick question... When you are giving Gmat prep 10 times you might have seen lot of repeats!!! How you evaluate that you are imporving??
Even if I gave the tests so many times, I encountered only about 20-30% repeats. And of these questions, with a majority of them I had either completely forgotten the solution and the answer or made sure I solve the questions without any external knowledge of these questions. If its a quant question, I would solve it completely. If its a verbal question, I would delegently follow the POE. Mathew Thanks a lot!!
Re: From 650 to 740: My Story.
30 Oct 2010, 02:49