GMAT Debrief - From 450 to 740 : Share GMAT Experience
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# GMAT Debrief - From 450 to 740

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GMAT Debrief - From 450 to 740 [#permalink]

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22 Nov 2011, 22:53
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Hi guys,

I never thought that I would write my “GMAT Debrief”.

Total: 740
Quant: 48
Verbal: 42

This debrief is for GMAT aspirants who are currently getting scores between 400 and 500 and who want to achieve that magical figure 700.

Preparation

First Attempt

Materials used:
1. OG 12
2. Verbal Review 2
3. Princeton GMAT Manual and Tests
4. IMS Quant Material for basics of Quantitative Section (Probably available only in India)
5. GMATPrep Tests

Duration: 2 months (2 hours a day during weekdays, 4 hours during weekends)

1. I joined Princeton Review weekend classes in November 2010.

2. Though I had already taken my GMATPrep1 in which I got only 450, my result of the diagnostic test of Princeton Review was surprisingly at 550 (Q40 and V28). My secret for this achievement was that I was not aware of GMAT pattern when I took the GMATPrep test for the first time. When I saw DS questions, I didn’t know how to deal with them. Moreover, I was not even aware of the different sections in Verbal. When I saw CR and RC sections, I didn’t know how to tackle them. Then I took a while to brush up my basics in Quant thoroughly. I used IMS Quant Material. If IMS material is not available in your country, you can refer to Manhattan Quant Guides or Kaplan Quant Guides. Make sure that you are comfortable with most of the topics in Quant before you take the Diagnostic for the second time.

3. When I saw the result of the second diagnostic test, I felt happy that since I was able to increase my score from 450 to 550 in a couple of week’s time, I could improve my score from 550 to 750 in a month’s time (You see, that is a simple math ☺).

4. When I started following the verbal sections closely during the classes, I realized that verbal section is much tougher than I had expected.

5. I started practicing OG12 and Verbal Review 2. I made sure that I solved all the questions from OG. As per Princeton Review’s instructors’ advice, I started maintaining an error log and practiced the question that they used to give as assignments.

6. I started solving more and more questions without realizing that I have to concentrate more on questions that I didn’t answer right. I always wanted to answer the next question correctly rather than worrying about why my previous question was wrong.

7. Frankly, in CR I was not able to distinguish Premises from Conclusions and to find what the question is specifically asking for.

8. But still I had the confidence that I can register for the exam in December 2010 (with only 1 month of preparation) because most of the GMAT debriefs I read, used to say that their maximum preparation time was only 1 month or 2 months. I also felt that I had the same capability in me to achieve that magical number "700" in 45 days.

9. I was not able to realize that the test gets much tougher after 600. I was always with a mindset that I could achieve that magical figure just by solving more questions. I took all the tests offered by Princeton Review and my top score was 620 during the preparation period.

10. I scheduled my exam for 5th Jan 2011 because most of the universities application deadlines were in 10 days. Just four days before the exam, I took my GMATPrep 2 and I scored 620. Though saddened by the score, I thought I could improve that deficit of 80 in 4 days easily.

11. I took GMATPrep 1 for the second time and scored 650. The reason for 650 is that most of the questions that I saw were repeat questions from my earlier GMATPrep tests and I saved lot of time in solving those repeat questions. I was able to answer the tougher questions by spending that saved time in solving them.

12. Two days were left for the exam and I was confident that I could crack the GMAT.

13. I completed the exam. I saw the score 640 (Q-42, V-36)

First Attempt Test Scores:

GMATPrep1 (Nov 2010) - 450
Princeton Review Test (Dec 2010) - 620
Real GMAT (Jan 2011) – 640 (Q-42, V-36)

Frankly, after seeing my score I was not disappointed. Immediately after coming out of the examination center, I called my mom and told her that I am going to re-take the GMAT and I don’t want to apply to any university with that kind of score.

Mistakes Learnt:
1. Find out the sections of Quant and Verbal that I am weak at.
2. Concentrate more on questions that I answered wrong rather than being happy about the questions that I got right.
3. Follow a disciplined study plan for Verbal.
4. For Quant, practice weak areas.
5. Don’t rush towards the Real GMAT if your score range from 600 to 690 and if your target score is 700.
GMAT Verbal is about understanding the rules and patterns. The better you know the rules, the more you are capable of getting the answers right.

Second Attempt

Materials used:
1. OG 12
2. Verbal Review 2
3. GMAT Club Forum and Club Tests
4. Grockit.com
5. Princeton Review Free Test
6. GMATPrep Tests
7. Manhattan GMAT SC Guide (Must for 650+ Scores)
8. Powerscore CR Bible (Must for 650+ Scores)
9. http://codecoax.com/grerc/

Duration: 2 months 21 days. July 15th to Sep 15th (4 hours a day) and 1st Nov to 22nd Nov (6-7 hours a day).

1. I started my preparation for GMAT after a long gap of 6 months. It took a while (10 days) to make a schedule and come back to previous form. Before I could start to work on GMAT, I went through the forums of Gmatclub.com to find out how to plan my schedule. After a week’s time, I started feeling comfortable with my preparation. Finally, I started with a clear plan.

2. The plan was very simple: Manhattan SC, Powerscore CR Bible, Gmatclub.com Club Tests.

a. I had to read Manhattan SC Guide till I got comfortable with most of the grammar rules that GMAT tests. I got comfortable after I read the book 3 times (Cover to Cover except the list of idioms chapter). Then I started attending the questions from Gmatclub.com forum. For the next 5 days, I made sure that I read the Manhattan GMAT SC guide completely at least once a day. By then, I started observing the patterns and could see that my average time to answer a SC Question has come down to less than 2 minutes and my hit rate was decent. I still had few problems that I couldn't answer but I rectified those questions after I completed all the SC questions from OG12. Manhattan SC Guide has not dealt with couple of concepts based on which there are few OG questions (Questions in OG12: 26, 39, 41, 73, 88). You can google to find out the reasoning behind the correct answers. In the month of September, I came to know about Grockit.com. I found this site very exciting not only because of its overall UI experience but also because of the kind of questions it offers. I reinforced my SC by attending higher-level questions from Grockit. Overall, by the time I finished my exam yesterday, I had gone through Manhattan GMAT atleast 20 times.

b. Initially I was not aware of Powerscore CR Bible. I used to attend questions from Gmatclub.com. Even though my hit rate was more than 60%, I was not confident in answering questions. Somewhere in the forum I read about Powerscore CR Bible and reluctantly thought giving it a try. I was initially afraid by looking at the size of the book (300 pages). Once I started going through the book, the experience was so good that I wanted to complete the book in just 1 day and I did it. This book has opened my eyes about how to tackle CR questions. Without this book, I would have never dreamt of taking my hit rate to more than 95% in CR. I would suggest anybody and everybody who want to cross that magical number of 700 to read this book. Grockit.com has helped me in reinforcing what I have learned. To practice greater number of CR and SC questions, head straight to Grockit.com. Overall, I dedicatedly practiced for 20 days continuously to get into the groove of correctly answering all the CR questions. I then used to practice CR along with other sections of Quant and Verbal.

c. My confidence in CR has helped me to answer RC questions pretty well. I found the Rhyme’s guide from Gmatclub.com to be pretty useful during the initial period of my RC practice. Though I got the tips from Gmatclub.com, RC material was hard to find. Since I had exhausted all my RC material from OG and Verbal Review 2 while practicing for my earlier GMAT attempt, I had to search hard to find GMAT level material. Then after few days, I found this wonderful link http://codecoax.com/grerc/. Most of the passages from this site are of a very good quality. The tougher ones are similar to the 700+ level passages of Real GMAT. Even Grockit.com has good passages. But the higher-level difficulty passages are so hard that it becomes impossible to answer them. I would recommend anybody who is practicing on Grockit.com to attend only moderate level passages, as they are more reflective of Real GMAT questions. To improve the timing of answering RC passages, one has to become confident in answering CR questions and then practice is the only mantra. Practice more than 30 passages and I am sure you will crack the GMAT. Overall, I practiced for 15-20 days dedicatedly on RC (3 passages a day) along with other verbal and quant questions.

d. For Quant, kindly refer “My advice on Quant”

These were my scores a week before GMAT:
GMAT Prep 1 (14th Nov) – 720 (Q46, V40)
GMAT Prep 2 (16th Nov)– 730 (Q47, V41)
GMAT Prep 1 (18th Nov Retake) – 760 (Q50, V42)
GMAT Prep 2 (20th Nov Retake) – 700 (Q50, V35)

3. Before the exam day:

a. I evaluated my mistakes from GMATPrep2 that I had taken on 20th Nov. My Quant was 50 but my Verbal was 35. I made many mistakes in SC because I became overconfident from my earlier score of 760 and I was not concentrating on the errors in the sentence. So, I worked on all the mistakes and made sure that I’ll not rush in the exam. I also practiced all the errors I made in the quant section. The time was 12 PM. Then I headed to the gym to get some exercise. By 3 PM, I finished my lunch and sat in front of my MAC to finalize the colleges to which I wanted to apply during the GMAT Test. Then I went to my friend’s place. At 6.30 PM, I along with my friend went to a movie and on my way back I purchased few snack bars to carry them to the exam center. I felt the movie was really good and went to sleep happily at 10.30 PM remembering the scenes from the movie.

4. On the day of exam:

a. My exam was at 9 AM. So, I got up at 6. Got ready by 7. Went to the nearest temple. Then headed straight to have my breakfast at the nearest hotel. I reached the exam center by 8 AM and it was too early. From OG, I reviewed 10 SC questions and 5 CR questions just to get into the groove. We were let in to the exam center by 8.30. After finishing the check-in procedure, I was directed towards my system whose number was luckily 7. After going through the instructions, I finished both the essays with ease. I came out during the break to have the nutri-bar and some water. In the quant section, I wanted to make sure that I answer all the questions correctly in the beginning. The initial 10 questions were a breeze as I completed them in less than 20 minutes. The next set of 10 questions in 25 minutes. 17 questions were left to be completed within 30 minutes. My troubles started from the 22nd question. I spent a couple of minutes more on one particular question without realizing the time. The troubles exacerbated during the end of the section with 4 questions and 5 minutes left. I managed to complete the section within the stipulated time. I came out with a feeling that I was able to complete the section averagely. I thought, let this not ruin my verbal. I had another snack bar and some more water. As I started the verbal section, I was answering the questions very smoothly. After 40 minutes I realized that I was answering 5 minutes slower than my expected time. In the end, I was left with 5 questions and 5 minutes. While answering those 5 questions, I could sense my heart beat increasing whenever I thought of the final score and falling back to normal when I think of answering the question. I answered all the 5 questions within time and without much problem because all of them were from CR or SC. Then came the moment of reality. When I clicked next it asked me from which university I graduated. That question helped me to ease my tension. Then I clicked next to see the screen that asked whether to report the scores. I clicked yes and clicked next. Finally, the moment has come. When I looked at Quant score, it said 48. In a split-second, I looked down to see my final score, a “mighty 740”. I said “yes-yes-yes-yes”. The invigilator said to calm down and came to help me with my belongings. The rest is history.

Second Attempt Test Scores:
Princeton Free Test (Nov 2011) – 710 (Q46, V41)
Grockit CAT (12th Nov 2011) – 720 (Q48, V39)
Grockit CAT (13th Nov 2011) – 800 (Q51, V48)
GMAT Prep 1 (14th Nov) – 720 (Q46, V40)
GMAT Prep 2 (16th Nov)– 730 (Q47, V41)
GMAT Prep 1 (18th Nov Retake) – 760 (Q50, V42)
GMAT Prep 2 (20th Nov Retake) – 700 (Q50, V35)
Real GMAT (22nd Nov 2011) – 740 (Q48, V42)

1. For answering CR and RC questions properly, first understand what a particular question means. My meaning of “what a particular question means” is not simply reading the question and understanding the question, but an understanding of the in-depth logic behind these questions without even reading the answers. You can find this out by referring to Question types section of “Powerscore CR Bible”.

2. Clearly understand how to separate premises from conclusions. This process is very important to answer evaluate questions, boldface questions, parallel reasoning questions and method of reasoning questions.

3. CR is the scoring area in Real GMAT. Once you start understanding the patterns, the likelihood of getting a CR question right is more than 95%. In my GMATPrep tests, I made only 3 mistakes among all the 50-56 questions that I encountered.

4. Once you understand how to answer CR questions accurately, you will find it easy to answer RC questions. You might feel uncomfortable with the timing initially but that’s the way it is to practice RC. Never get bogged down by the time you take to complete an RC and its questions. I have found Rhyme’s guide from Gmatclub.com to be useful. You can use Rhyme’s guide just to improve your timing. Better understanding of question types comes only from CR.

5. Few of the techniques I would love to share about how to answer RCs:

a. When you read an RC, the purpose of the passage is generally stated in the first lines of the passage or the last lines of the passage. I usually used to forget what is mentioned in the first lines of the passage after reading it completely. So, I would suggest that the purpose of the passage question should be answered by re-reading the first and last lines of the passage along with an understanding of the structure of the passage.

b. Structure of the passage can be understood by reading the first paragraph completely, then by reading the first sentences of the remaining paragraphs. Also read the last line of the last paragraph.

c. If the question is a specific one, then find all the references of the “word” or “phrase” mentioned. Read 2 lines above and 2 lines below that particular reference. I would dare if you don’t get the answer right after following this procedure.

d. When a question refers to a particular paragraph, the chances of getting an answer are high if we read the last lines of the previous paragraph or the first lines of the next paragraph.

e. 95% of the times, the correct answers are taken directly from the passage. That doesn’t mean that the answers are stated as it is. The answers might be altered a bit to confuse the reader but the meaning remains the same as it is in the passage.

f. Understanding of the question is very very important to answer an RC question correctly.

6. Sentence Correction can be mastered by reading Manhattan GMAT SC Guide. I have read the book at least 20 times. My verbal practice started with this area. So, I made sure that I know all the rules before I solve a bunch of questions at a time from OG. For the first time, to completely read the book, I took 12 hours, second time 4 hours, third time 2.5 hours and later I used to take only 1.5 hours to go through the complete book.

7. Once I got comfortable with most of the rules of Grammar after my 3rd reading of the book, I started answering OG questions. Then I started observing the patterns.

8. Grockit.com and Gmatclub.com have been the best companions in my study. In fact, Grockit.com provides you with enough material for your verbal practice with analysis on you weak and strong areas; Gmatclub.com provides you all the tips and tools to achieve that magic number of 700.

1. Don’t bother too much about Probability and Combinatorics. You might or might not get questions on probability. I didn’t get a single question on Probability and Combinatorics in my Real GMAT. If you are comfortable with the subject then it is fine. No need to stall your GMAT exam or GMATPrep just because of Probability. The probability questions what you encounter in GMATPrep are not so tough. You can answer most of the questions on Probability and Combinatorics if you can answer the attached Questionnaire that I downloaded from Gmatclub.com

2. Coordinate Geometry was also tough for me until I saw the guide from Gmatclub.com. I have attached that also with this post.

3. I would recommend anybody to concentrate more on number properties, modulus and inequalities. Questions on these topics comprise more than 60% of Real GMAT test questions.

4. Never ever leave a question that you have answered incorrectly. Always find time to evaluate that particular question.

5. In Quant, Grockit.com provides you practice quant questions that help you to understand any particular topic, whereas Gmatclub.com through Gmatclub Tests provides you with tests equivalent to a test of 700+ level in Real GMAT.

All in all, I would like to say to all the GMAT aspirants who are not able to reach that score is, “You just need to try without expecting much in return in short term. I dare if you don’t achieve what you want to achieve if you have put in enough efforts in a reasonable period.”

Quotes that inspired me

I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul;
(Poem:Invictus)
~William Ernest Henley

There is no tomorrow...
~Rocky III (By Apollo Creed)

You can’t be legend until you are a legend
Attachments

Coordinate Geometry.docx [412.01 KiB]

combinatroy_and_probability_132_914.doc [107.5 KiB]

Last edited by mba4viplav on 24 Jun 2013, 09:07, edited 15 times in total.
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Re: GMAT Debrief - From 450 to 740 [#permalink]

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23 Nov 2011, 06:02
mba4viplav

Awesome debrief...Congo

I can not find those file that you talked about? It will be really helpful if you can attach those files for other aspirants.....

Thanks
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Re: GMAT Debrief - From 450 to 740 [#permalink]

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23 Nov 2011, 06:25
Ooops.....I forgot I have attached those documents now. Please check the post again.

prateekbhatt wrote:
mba4viplav

Awesome debrief...Congo

I can not find those file that you talked about? It will be really helpful if you can attach those files for other aspirants.....

Thanks
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Re: GMAT Debrief - From 450 to 740 [#permalink]

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23 Nov 2011, 07:23
Congratulations mba4viplav!!! Your debrief is encouraging and exciting. Thank you for taking the time to share your journey with us. Good luck in your applications!!!
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Re: GMAT Debrief - From 450 to 740 [#permalink]

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23 Nov 2011, 10:11
Many Many congrats man... GMAT debrief is really awesome, encouraging, exciting and inspiring...

I have few queries..
1) Can you share your study plan (If you can)...
2) Have you made any error log (If any plz share it..)

Congrats again...
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Re: GMAT Debrief - From 450 to 740 [#permalink]

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23 Nov 2011, 11:22
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Hi Neeraj,

My study plan was fairly simple:

First, I completed reading Manhattan GMAT SC book. Then practiced OG SC questions. This whole process took me 2 weeks.

Second, I studied Powerscore CR Bible. Then practiced OG CR questions and questions from Gmatclub.com forum. This process took me again 2 weeks.

While practicing SC and CR everyday, I used to take a quant test from Gmatclub.com Club Tests.

Still, I was not comfortable with my hit rate. I came to know about Grockit.com

I joined Grockit.com and practiced for 3 to 4 hours a day (6.30 AM to 10.30 AM) on all my weak areas in both quant and verbal for 1 month. Grockit gives you an analysis on your weak and strong areas.

20 days before the exam, I started working on my RC. I used http://codecoax.com/grerc/ to practice RC.

From 10 days before the exam, I started taking CATs from Princeton Review, Grockit and GMATPrep.

neeraj7k wrote:
Many Many congrats man... GMAT debrief is really awesome, encouraging, exciting and inspiring...

I have few queries..
1) Can you share your study plan (If you can)...
2) Have you made any error log (If any plz share it..)

Congrats again...

Last edited by mba4viplav on 23 Nov 2011, 11:30, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: GMAT Debrief - From 450 to 740 [#permalink]

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23 Nov 2011, 11:27
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Re: GMAT Debrief - From 450 to 740 [#permalink]

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23 Nov 2011, 16:36
Congrats and thank you for helpful debrief.

Posted from GMAT ToolKit
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Re: GMAT Debrief - From 450 to 740 [#permalink]

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23 Nov 2011, 18:57
Awesome debrief
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23 Nov 2011, 22:09
Congrats! This has been a great inspiration for me to buckle up and start studying. Plus, what do you think of the IMS material overall? (not just for Quants) Was it particularly useful for any section?

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Re: GMAT Debrief - From 450 to 740 [#permalink]

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23 Nov 2011, 23:44
Congrats, and great post.
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Re: GMAT Debrief - From 450 to 740 [#permalink]

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24 Nov 2011, 01:04
Many congratulations.

What were your gmatclub test scores?
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Re: GMAT Debrief - From 450 to 740 [#permalink]

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24 Nov 2011, 02:54
Great post. Inspiring... Good luck with your applications
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24 Nov 2011, 03:02
IMS material was useful for understanding the basics of quant. The questions were not of GMAT Level.

hifunda wrote:
Congrats! This has been a great inspiration for me to buckle up and start studying. Plus, what do you think of the IMS material overall? (not just for Quants) Was it particularly useful for any section?

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Re: GMAT Debrief - From 450 to 740 [#permalink]

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24 Nov 2011, 03:05
I don't have the list of gmat club test scores. But most of the my scores were between 62 and 78 percentiles

prashantbacchewar wrote:
Many congratulations.

What were your gmatclub test scores?

Last edited by mba4viplav on 24 Nov 2011, 08:23, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: GMAT Debrief - From 450 to 740 [#permalink]

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24 Nov 2011, 04:02
Top debrief and all the best mba4viplav. Your bike looks cute too.
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Best Regards,
E.

MGMAT 1 --> 530
MGMAT 2--> 640
MGMAT 3 ---> 610
GMAT ==> 730

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Re: GMAT Debrief - From 450 to 740 [#permalink]

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24 Nov 2011, 07:13
Congrats dear, its christmas time for u in the month of Nov.......great score n very candid debrief......all d very best...
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Fire the final bullet only when you are constantly hitting the Bull's eye, till then KEEP PRACTICING.

A WAY TO INCREASE FROM QUANT 35-40 TO 47 : http://gmatclub.com/forum/a-way-to-increase-from-q35-40-to-q-138750.html

Q 47/48 To Q 50 + http://gmatclub.com/forum/the-final-climb-quest-for-q-50-from-q47-129441.html#p1064367

Three good RC strategies http://gmatclub.com/forum/three-different-strategies-for-attacking-rc-127287.html

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Re: GMAT Debrief - From 450 to 740 [#permalink]

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24 Nov 2011, 08:03
ist attempt i too got 450 now hoping to get the same score that you got
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Re: GMAT Debrief - From 450 to 740 [#permalink]

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24 Nov 2011, 11:23
one of the best posts I've ever read, thanks so much for the insanely detailed plans!
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Re: GMAT Debrief - From 450 to 740 [#permalink]

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25 Nov 2011, 02:19
Hello Brother ,

I a new to the forum ,liked you post very much .
it has motivated me to seriously give a systematic effort for the desired score.

If you have latest soft copy of Manhattan SC Guide and Powerscore CR Bible

then please mail me, i am just planning to start preparation so collecting material......

Sandy
Re: GMAT Debrief - From 450 to 740   [#permalink] 25 Nov 2011, 02:19

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