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GMAT 710 (Q47 V41) - What worked and what didn't...

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GMAT 710 (Q47 V41) - What worked and what didn't... [#permalink] New post 18 Jul 2009, 15:29
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Hi everyone,
after soaking in a lot of strategies from this forum and covering most 700-800 targeted material out there, I crossed the great barrier score. First, I want to say a big thank you to all of you. Second, here is what I found out:

My initial experimental tests (no prep) ranged between 550 (81 percentile on Kaplan) and 650. I was looking to get into a bracket higher than that so I researched 700-800 score materials and got these, reading them in the following order:

Kaplan 800 (fast read, easy questions, neat quick fix strategies but no theoretical substance).
Veritas Prep on Demand(I promise it was cheaper when I got it) http://www.veritasprep.com/GMAT_store/item-details/46/ - This gave me the three books from OG11, a magic yellow paper + pen combination that followed me through my entire prep process, 15 tests that I didn't do (did one, but most were from other places (800Score, Arco, 5-6 Veritas tests) and the one I did seemed easy), 16 or so online lectures and the Veritas books. The Veritas books were precisely the same as the lectures but also had a ton of Excercises. So If you have the books, don't bother getting the lectures. Veritas has much less theoretical content than ManhattanGMAT (bellow) but had much much more exercises that were focused specifically on the material. They had several tricks different from Manhattan, but I found most of those hidden in the linked pages bellow on this forum. One thing really helped - the Probability and Combinatorics section of Veritas. They actually separated Permutations, Combinations and Probability into separate sections in one book with separate exercises on each and then combined questions for the rest of the book (100+ questions). Unlike the Manhattan Probability material, the Veritas one + the Veritas exercises actually stuck with me. The only two sections in Veritas I would recommend are the Arguments and the Probability/Combinatorics books. For the rest - get ManhattanGMAT and read this forum.

Manhattan GMAT all 8 books which come with test banks and 6 kick-ass full CAT tests. Those 8 are best possible theory books you can get if you have the patience to go through the full material. I did and it took a 12 day vacation + several weekends to complete them. I also did all exercises after each section, because brains can't be trusted to apply everything they read weeks after they read it. Here is how the MGMAT helped:
- Practice turned the valuable concepts into intuition for me -so I highly recommend practicing the concepts without delay after reading them.
- The Manhattan Qbanks are small and targeted to each book, but they will still kick your butt.
- The Manhattan CATs have tougher Math and fairly tricky Verbal. The math always took more time than was allotted so they made for excellent timing practice. I kept getting 47-49 on my Math after reading everything I could read about the GMAT math section.
- Manhattan Verbal was OK and I had no issues with timing in it (always finished 5 minutes early) except I could not get over V37 for 5 tests in a row. I felt like I had platoed. At this moment of great frustration came the GMATClub and saved the day. Just a couple of days of reading everything linked here:

everything-you-need-to-prepare-for-the-gmat-revised-77983.html
and here:
new-to-the-verbal-forum-please-read-this-first-77546.html

I was scoring 45 on the Manhattan CAT verbal during the last week before my exam.

Original Guides 11ed -needless to say, those were a must read. Though because some questions repeat between the OG and the GMATPREP software I think I got a deceptively high Score on my GMATPreps.

Here is my order and scores on tests:
GMATPrep1: 740 (first attempt - right after I read the Veritas and Manhattan guides)
MGMAT1: 700
MGMAT2: 690
MGMAT3: 680
MGMAT4: 680 (imagine the frustration piling at this point)
GMATPrep2: 710 (first attempt - checking my sanity after the negative progression in scores )
GMATClub strategy days
MGMAT4: 720 (q:44 v:45) (things were looking up, though I did miss 3-4 math questions because of timing)
Actual GMAT: 710 (q:47 v:41) AWA:5.5 - slowed down on two verbal questions and that made me rush through 4 in the end though I do think I got 2 of those (non-sequentially) right.

Oh and I did do 1000 of all the OG questions in the books (started with the harder questions, in case I ran out of time for the earlier numbers, and I did run out of time) and I did do those at 60 per day for a few days + 1 day when I did 300 questions. My scoring average was 85-92% right on most questions (85% on the hardest 20 questions of each section)

Word of Warning - some of the strategies on the verbal side that I learned on this forum slowed my reading a bit for a better score, but also made me have to catch up in time for the first time in my verbal testing experience. So more practice on my side would have been good, but it didn't help that I found the strategies during my last week before the test. The links are above, make sure to read those early in your testing practice

Here are the strategies that helped the most during test day that I learned form this forum:
1. I memorized the 15 minute interval table and wrote it down on my pad before each section:

Time left | Q#: Quant | Q#: Verbal
75 | 1 | 1
60 | 7-8 | 8-10
45 | 14-15 | 16-18
30 | 21-22 | 24-26
15 | 28-29 | 32-34

That really helped keep my time in check, except for the two questions in the verbal section that I slowed down on after only 15 minutes were left (that was on my hour # 6 of being under stress so I was getting tired).

2. I had also followed the Ursula's prep advice and jotted down all of my errors and reasons for the errors (careless, slow, unsure, etc) throughout my entire test preparation

3. I had read all of the Sentence Correction notes shared by people on the forum and spotted the because/in that and a couple of other tricks during the test.

4. During one of the Strategy discussions here I learned that messing up several questions in a row affects your score far worse than having right/wrong/right/wrong/right. So any time I was running out of time, I made it a point to do the remaining questions in this pattern until I caught up with my timing: guess a question / do a question / guess a question / do a question .


What happened on test day:

- Got up at 5am for a test at 8am (drive, food, dog-walking, and freak-out time was budgeted in). By 11:00 - 11:30am the words were blurring on my monitor and I was running low on brain 'RAM memory' (for non-computer folks, its the ability to remember content long enough to answer questions without re-reading). Though I did wake up at the same time and did the same ammount of work at the same time for 4 days in a row before the test.

- Did some questions in each section before going to the test center - several I inevitably got wrong but that was the purpose of doing the testing - it helped my brain ramp up to a its standard level safely without messing up important test scores.

- Took numerous "breathing" and "hands over eyes" breaks to reduce stress both before and during test breaks.

- Took every single minute the test gave me for a break. BY THE WAY: GMAT HAS CHANGED TIMING ON ITS BREAKS - BREAKS BETWEEN SECTIONS ARE NOW 8 MINITES LONG.

- The questions in the Math section all looked easy, in comparison to the Manhattan CATs. And they were not too layered. I didn't get a single probability or combinatorics question, which was not necessarily disappointing. Mostly number properties, inequalities and equations. With a few rate and time questions.

- The verbal was ok, though I did get a couple of questions that took me longer than usual - on SC, one CR. The passages were medium length with mostly 3-4 questions per passage. The shorter the passage, the nastier the questions, as usual.

The AWA:

I have done some blogging in the past, and I did the AWA part to each sample CAT I have taken before the real test. The most useful AWA prep for me was a tiny book called ARCO - "Answers to the real essay questions." The 30-40 or so pages of strategies in the beginning of that book were worth their weight in gold. After scanning through 2-3 of their essay questions and following their strategy I did two random Essays from the real AWA Q bank and did beautifully with time to spare. In two hours, on the day before the test I felt ready for my AWAs. During the test, I used the same strategies and I think I did well. The tests questions were not the easiest, so I'm glad I took a few hours to prepare.


TIPS FROM ME:

Study theory before you starting to do tests for 4 reasons:

1. When you start doing tests, the reasons for your mistakes may get blurry and the stress and pressure will make it less obvious to spot what you don't know.

2. Practice makes good strategies intuitive, and stress will wipe out anything that is non-intuitive during the first few minutes of each section of the actual test.

3. When you start doing tests, you want to do more tests to beat your own scores thus studying gets very boring and harder to do.

4. No matter how many tricks you know, the GMAT tests knowledge of the concepts. So learn the theory behind the math and verbal. There will always be more tricks, but that's because they reflect the attempt that GMAC is making at going around the tricks GMATters are sharing online.

Reading the material on this forum will most certainly speed up your study process.

I hope this helps. I will add more as I remember. I am aiming for H/S/W and I hope this score will suffice.

UPDATE:

My AWA just arrived: 5.5
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Last edited by MBAgirl2010 on 23 Jul 2009, 00:20, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: GMAT 710 (Q47 V41) - What worked and what didn't... [#permalink] New post 18 Jul 2009, 15:50
Congrats, this was a great post.

I could not find in your post, how much time did you spend in the whole preparation. It seems a lot of work...
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Re: GMAT 710 (Q47 V41) - What worked and what didn't... [#permalink] New post 18 Jul 2009, 15:58
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I started reading Manhattan and Veritas (doing only reading and excercises) in November '08 finished most of it during christmas vacation and dropped everything around January (bad idea, I probably forgot a lot). around February-March I realized I need to set a date for my test or I will drag on and loose any momentum from all the studying. I began doing the regular tests again and increased the load till the day of my test. The initial score of 740 on GMATprep fooled me in January, because everyone says GMATPrep is closest to the real deal. I focused intensely on the test in the last 8 weeks before test date, did not do nearly as many full tests (I could only do those on weekends). So If I were to do it again, I would probably shorten my study schedule and do more practice tests, along with all the studying.
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Re: GMAT 710 (Q47 V41) - What worked and what didn't... [#permalink] New post 18 Jul 2009, 17:58
Congrats and a detailed debrief..

Quick question - How would you compare the verbal section of Manhattan CAT/GMAT Prep/ Actual Gmat.
Espc the SC and CR part of it. Thanks and good luck with your apps.
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Re: GMAT 710 (Q47 V41) - What worked and what didn't... [#permalink] New post 18 Jul 2009, 18:32
I would say mgmat and actual may be on par. Gmatprep seemed easier. The number of sc questions seemed higher in the actual test, and the higher level questions seemed to require knowledge of more off-the-beaten path rules.

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Re: GMAT 710 (Q47 V41) - What worked and what didn't... [#permalink] New post 18 Jul 2009, 21:00
wow ... super cool post ... congrats .. and im all game to write my gmat on oct 31st ... a little more than 3 months .. i guess i should be able to do it
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Re: GMAT 710 (Q47 V41) - What worked and what didn't... [#permalink] New post 20 Jul 2009, 05:02
Congrats! and thank you for the post.

8 mins instead of 10? This isn't mentioned on the website...I wonder what GMAC is upto.
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Re: GMAT 710 (Q47 V41) - What worked and what didn't... [#permalink] New post 21 Jul 2009, 02:26
nice post MBAgirl2010.Thx
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Re: GMAT 710 (Q47 V41) - What worked and what didn't... [#permalink] New post 21 Jul 2009, 03:49
Thank you for the explanation MBAgirl2010.
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Re: GMAT 710 (Q47 V41) - What worked and what didn't... [#permalink] New post 22 Jul 2009, 06:03
Congrats on the great score. How do explain the dip in your scores from gmatprep 1 to gmaprep2 scores?
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Re: GMAT 710 (Q47 V41) - What worked and what didn't... [#permalink] New post 22 Jul 2009, 17:40
You're welcome :) One thing I let happen was to underestimate the time I needed to boost my score after reading all the theory. I let the reading make me overconfident and then sank back into no-practice mode. When I started to take the tests again I felt I had wasted all of that studying time. Don't let your guard down if you start studying set your D-day and do more each day than you did the day before.
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Re: GMAT 710 (Q47 V41) - What worked and what didn't... [#permalink] New post 24 Jul 2009, 13:16
Now that you've gotten your GMAT over with, have you decided what your MBA major/concentration will be?
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Re: GMAT 710 (Q47 V41) - What worked and what didn't... [#permalink] New post 24 Jul 2009, 13:35
Of the four schools that I am applying to, two do not require a major. Of those that do, I will probably look into General Management with some extra strategy and finance classes to help round my profile in management. I know that during my visit to Wharton the program's list of courses looked like a candy box - all of them looked great to take. The temptation to pick from every area is very strong and it can make you loose focus(this is one of the reasons why adcom needs you to have a solid post-MBA goal). I will try and steer from that by narrowing down my focus for each school independently - I want to cover areas I am weaker in or have less experience, but that are essential for my post MBA goal.
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Re: GMAT 710 (Q47 V41) - What worked and what didn't... [#permalink] New post 24 Jul 2009, 19:37
Thanks for the info. I really like the timing strategy and will try to incorporate it when I practice.
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Re: GMAT 710 (Q47 V41) - What worked and what didn't... [#permalink] New post 24 Jul 2009, 19:47
that was a good read :thanks and :gl
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Re: GMAT 710 (Q47 V41) - What worked and what didn't... [#permalink] New post 05 Aug 2009, 03:37
Good score and good luck in application process!
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Re: GMAT 710 (Q47 V41) - What worked and what didn't... [#permalink] New post 07 Oct 2009, 22:16
Great score & thank you for the pointers! How useful was the Manahttan Reading Comprehension book for you?
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Re: GMAT 710 (Q47 V41) - What worked and what didn't... [#permalink] New post 08 Oct 2009, 02:55
Congrats on your 710.. good posts the observations posted were helpful..
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Re: GMAT 710 (Q47 V41) - What worked and what didn't... [#permalink] New post 25 Feb 2010, 05:13
Thanks for a very informative post. I'm working through the MGMAT strategy books at present and feel reassured about the approach I'm taking after reading your post. The tips and handy hints you gave were brilliant. Could you please give me the name of the author of ARCO and the version that you purchased?
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Re: GMAT 710 (Q47 V41) - What worked and what didn't... [#permalink] New post 25 Feb 2010, 06:03
great info
Thanks and success
Re: GMAT 710 (Q47 V41) - What worked and what didn't...   [#permalink] 25 Feb 2010, 06:03
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