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From 700 (Q47, V39) to 760 (Q49, V46) - some thoughts...

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From 700 (Q47, V39) to 760 (Q49, V46) - some thoughts... [#permalink] New post 12 Sep 2007, 13:49
Finally cracked the GMAT… From 700 (Q47, V39) to 760 (Q49, V46). Here are some thoughts, my story and a few advices (particularly for retakers):

PREPARATION / MATERIALS:

I don’t want to give many comments about the books all members in this forum recommend (buy Manhatten SC and Official Guide, these are really the best); I also used Princeton, Kaplan (Premier Program and 800), the Official Reviews, Princeton Math Workout and Manhattan Number Properties. For me, Kaplan was not very useful, I also cannot recommend the Barrons book.

Regarding CATs I highly recommend the GMATPrep (obviously), but also the Manhattan CATs. For only one book (26USD) you receive 6 online CATs. The math part is VERY difficult, but this is great for training and their explanations are easily to understand.

My scores in the CATs:

Kaplan 1 CD-Rom: 690
Kaplan 2 CD-Rom: 710
Kaplan 3 CD-Rom: 650 --> stopped using Kaplan

GMATPrep 1: 760 (Q49, V44)
GMATPrep 2: 750 (Q50, V41)

MGMAT 1: 710
MGMAT 2: 770
MGMAT 3: 760
MGMAT 4: 750

(the MGMAT CATs are not very representative since I allowed me 10 to 15 minutes more to complete the quant part; however, I think working longer on their quant problems is better than trying to rush through the questions in 75min… you learn more by solving it yourself)

Importantly, one CAT took me about 6 hours. I took the CAT and at the evening or the next day I reviewed all the questions in detail. You do not learn by taking a maximum numer of CATs, you learn by identifying mistakes, learning fast solutions, new approaches etc. I usually wrote the most important things / problems / solutions on paper in order to create a little booklet with difficult problems.

TO ALL RETAKERS

Well, many people think that retaking a test with a score at or above 700 is irrational. However, this might not be correct. The question of whether to retake the exam is NOT AT ALL dependent on your score. It solely depends on the question of whether you think you can actually do better than you did before. If you think you did not prepare well the first time or the test day went really bad, this is a sufficient reason. On the other hand, just thinking you had bad luck that day on a few questions or you have done better in some CATs is not a very good basis for retaking – do not lie to yourself, you will get caught. You have to be sure that you can increase your score – no matter if your original score is 400, 600 or 720. Be honest to yourself and realize when there is no more upward potential. GMAT is one and only one factor in the application process. All the good schools could fill their MBA programs with an average GMAT of 750 or 760. However, they do not do so since there are other factors. If you have a good GPA, you attended a good university, you work for a good company, you made some important personal achievements, write good essays etc. --> that is equally important. Do not overestimate the GMAT and also do not underestimate it.

THE ACTUAL TEST

For me it was important to relax the day and night before. I had a good sleep and an even better breakfast. I did the exam at noon, which is a much better time for me than in the morning. I also took no break within the exam – I think this depends on your preferences. For me, breaks interrupt my “flow” of thoughts and I prefer sitting at the computer all the time. Althought your eyes might be a square afterwards ;-)
The AWAs went well, nothing special. The quant part also went well (though I expected a 50). I lost plenty of time on some of the early question and that wasn’t so positive since I later on felt the time pressure continously.
The verbal part was my weakness (I thought), since I am not a native speaker and I rarely scored above 41 in the CATs. However, on test day it went great. Especially the reading passages were better than expected and I had not one of these science passages. One good strategy, though easy, that I developed is the “go one step further” approach. When you are a good test taker, you will mostly get difficult questions with a lot of traps. So after marking your choice of preferences, stop two or three seconds and think: is this actually the right answer, does it make sense from the bottom or is it just the answer GMAC wants me to pick? I know this is a bit like the Joe Bloggs approach on a higher level but at least it helped me a lot. Especially on CR problems.

THE GMATCLUB

The challenges are great; I had the chance to take only a few of them (which was probably why I scored Q49 and not Q50 ;-) ), but they are highly recommendable. Regarding the forum, going through the problems is also great training. However, what I sometimes find disturbing are comments such as “I pick D”, “Another B”, “C wins” or “Clearly E”. I do not want to offend anyone, but all the members here in this forum can only learn and progress if they have explanations WHY it is choice A, B, C, D or E. I learned a lot because some members put great effort in making their choice transparent and outlining their process of thought. Therefore, please, in order to help others, do post an explanation and not only the choice you pick.

In conclusion, I wish all of you good luck for whatever your do. Hard work usually pays off, but do realize when you have reached a certain line that you cannot cross. This is not a weakness, it is a strength!

Though this GMAT experience has now developed to a really long post, I hope that I could help some people with my thoughts. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or ask in this forum, I will be very happy to answer your questions.

All the best & take care!

Last edited by skkingdom on 26 Oct 2009, 09:25, edited 2 times in total.
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Verbal [#permalink] New post 13 Sep 2007, 04:39
What did you do to raise your verbal score from 39 to 46? My verbal was also 39 on my last test and I would LOVE to raise it into the 40's. This is mainly due to the fact that I know there are limitations on how high my quant is going to go no matter what I do.

Thanks, Sarah
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 [#permalink] New post 13 Sep 2007, 05:02
How did you prepare for RC? strategy? prior background? tips?
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 [#permalink] New post 13 Sep 2007, 07:29
Hey Sarah, hey BMWhype,

as I mentioned before, I used to score 41-42 on verbal in the CATs so I did not expect anything in the 46 range. I put a lot of effort into sentence correction, since it is kind of "learnable", at least the key concepts. Manhattan Prep and its SC book is clearly outstanding - it helped me a lot. When you go through your books and recognize difficult problems in SC, write them down and try to remember the basic concepts. A lot of things come up in every test.

Regarding RC, I had no particular strategy. What I did is that I decided not to take any notes during RC, e.g. a road-map or a short summary for each paragraph. For me, this costs time and distracts me a lot. In the verbal section, I rarely write something down, I think most times I do not write anything - but maybe that is personal preference. Reading the passage carefully and trying to memorize the main points without writing a roadmap helps. As I mentioned before, I think I was lucky since no hardcore-science passage appeared. Since I am a business student, passages concerning business topics usually work very well for me.

One message I took away from the test is that it doesn't matter whether you are a native speaker or not. Sometimes I believe being non-native helps since you read more carefully and learned the language according to grammar, structure etc. Relying on ones feeling is clearly insufficient, you have to know all the rules, especially for SC.
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 [#permalink] New post 13 Sep 2007, 16:53
skkingdom wrote:
Hey Sarah, hey BMWhype,

as I mentioned before, I used to score 41-42 on verbal in the CATs so I did not expect anything in the 46 range. I put a lot of effort into sentence correction, since it is kind of "learnable", at least the key concepts. Manhattan Prep and its SC book is clearly outstanding - it helped me a lot. When you go through your books and recognize difficult problems in SC, write them down and try to remember the basic concepts. A lot of things come up in every test.

Regarding RC, I had no particular strategy. What I did is that I decided not to take any notes during RC, e.g. a road-map or a short summary for each paragraph. For me, this costs time and distracts me a lot. In the verbal section, I rarely write something down, I think most times I do not write anything - but maybe that is personal preference. Reading the passage carefully and trying to memorize the main points without writing a roadmap helps. As I mentioned before, I think I was lucky since no hardcore-science passage appeared. Since I am a business student, passages concerning business topics usually work very well for me.

One message I took away from the test is that it doesn't matter whether you are a native speaker or not. Sometimes I believe being non-native helps since you read more carefully and learned the language according to grammar, structure etc. Relying on ones feeling is clearly insufficient, you have to know all the rules, especially for SC.


I totally agree. I think non-native speakers can have an easier time on the SC's.

Problem w/ native speakers is that even if the sentence is ungrammatical, we STILL UNDERSTAND IT.

Any thoughts?
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 [#permalink] New post 14 Sep 2007, 02:54
Wonderful score. Congrats.
Your write up ' TO all retakers' is a very good read. You have made some pretty honest points. Great.
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 [#permalink] New post 15 Sep 2007, 08:39
Congratulations!!!

Now time to prepare applications.... good luck!!!

I have already ordered from amazon.com kaplan premier program book, did I really waste my money?

Will I have those 6 MGMAT CATS if I bought Manhattan SC book from amazon.com?

Thanks in advance
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 [#permalink] New post 15 Sep 2007, 10:26
UPDATE: AWA 6.0

@trahul: thank you!

@ ferihere: no, it is not a complete waste of money, but i would not spend most of my time on kaplan... you will realize that their CATs are way below par... yes, you are getting ALL six MGMAT cats with one book purchase! really a good offer
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 [#permalink] New post 15 Sep 2007, 14:34
Could you also elaborate your verbal for me?:)
So the Manhattan SC did all the wonders?
How bout for CR and RC?
I too, am stuck in the high 30s range.

Btw, what kind of problems did you usually have trouble with in SC?
  [#permalink] 15 Sep 2007, 14:34
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