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GMAT Lost and Reconquered - 750 (50, 42)

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GMAT Lost and Reconquered - 750 (50, 42) [#permalink] New post 21 Jun 2012, 22:01
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Hi guys, I recently gave my GMAT and was ecstatic to get a 750. Even though there are many more who have gotten a better score with less effort, I would not trade my struggles and my learning’s for their brilliance. I started my preparation a year back and scored a disappointing 660 in my first attempt. I was almost on the verge of giving up after my first attempt but somehow was able to motivate myself to pull up my socks one more time and give in everything. I am glad I did because during this time I rekindled my love for many things and picked up a great habit of writing and most importantly got back my much needed self-belief that I could do it.

First Attempt – limping to 660

I started my GMAT prep in August of last year. I followed the traditional route, bought all the MGMAT books and took the Knewton prep course. My goal was to get 710 or higher and I was under the impression that I was doing quite well especially given my score on the MGMAT mocks. I really liked the Knewton course at that time for it was really entertaining. However, I felt that the coverage was not as comprehensive- nowhere near what someone like me who did graduation in India needs.

The MGMAT material was quite good for quant. I am an Indian and am strong in quant and hence I practically did not attempt the book on word problems. I focused my energies mostly on number properties, sets, and coordinate geometry – all and all spending less than 30 hrs. on quant. My last three MGMAT scores before the exam were 720, 730, 740. I even scored 40 on my last MGMAT exam. However, I could only achieve a 31 on my real test.

Second Attempt: Understanding what is needed to do well on Verbal
Sentence Correction on the exam absolutely shocked me. I struggled with RC too but this was no news to me. I felt that the resources I used did not prepare me very well for this. Then I read Stacey’s article on the new announcement and importance of Meaning and realized that there is a new way of doing Sentence correction. I was kind of disappointed that I did not know about it earlier and that the MGMAT book did not emphasize it as much. Also, I read the Santanu’s debrief (excellent debrief) in which he talked about the importance of GMAT strategy. He recommended e-GMAT for verbal so I checked them out. They have a decent free trial. I liked it and upon inputs from icaniwill and others purchased the course. Their sentence correction course is simply awesome. It made me realize how much I did not know on Sentence Correction even after going through the MGMAT SC twice. It also covered way more material than the Knewton course. Also e-GMAT has a very strong emphasis on meaning and meaning change. Similarly their RC course is a game changer. It taught me how to read a passage efficiently and respond to the answer choices. My RC accuracy improved to 80% after this course. Previously, I got only 60% of the questions correct. Their live sessions were a lot more intense than the Knewton live sessions. They covered more material and had more in-depth discussions. I would attribute 7-8 point improvement to this course.

What all did I learn from my preparation:

My second attempt was difficult. I was almost at the verge of applying to tier 2 schools when I decided that I would give it a second shot. However, once I made this decision, I knew I had to get my fighting spirit back. The first thing I did was to look at the latest motivational research. I read a short article titled “Nine Things Successful People Do Differently” by Heidi Grant Halvorson. It is an excellent article that emphasizes on learning, how you should evaluate your progress etc. I highly recommend reading it (attached). Then I purchased an audio interview by audible ($4 only) in which she details these things out. Again highly recommended. Here is how I changed my approach:

1. Got a parallel challenge: I decided that along with my prep, I would lose weight and get fit again. Hence, I made it a point to hit the gym at least 4 days a week. How did this help? It made me realize that importance of time and this made me much more efficient while studying. Also I felt good about myself which gave me more confidence.
2. Build on special victories: I had a daily and weekly goal and I told myself that every week if I complete these goals, I would go and play soccer. I love playing soccer (eagerly waiting to watch Germany Vs Greece) and this was incentive for me to do two things; plan wisely and execute on the plan.
3. Do things that make sense: The splits method in Sentence correction and the skimming approach in RC did not make sense to me. However, I had little basis to question these approaches during my first attempt even when they did not make sense to me. However, in the second attempt I followed the meaning based approach and read the passage with an aim to comprehend a reasonable amount of information even when doing so took a bit longer.
4. Not to be satisfied by the improvements: This is directly from Heidi Grant’s article. She is right when she says that we become complacent when we look at how much we have achieved. As suggested by her, I looked at how much I had to achieve both while exercising and while working out.
5. Use GMATClub’s new interface and GMATPrep: GC has done a great job catalogue questions for SC/CR/RC. It has also organized them by difficulty which by great. Make sure that you use this – especially where the OA is not suspect. Also, use the GMATPrep documents. Both these provide an excellent source of practice especially if you are someone like me who has pretty much exhausted all GMATPreps.
6. Try either reading of writing (or both): A lot of people here recommend reading WSJ and other newspapers. With all the reading that I did on GMAT, I could not focus on reading stuff that I was not interested in. Rather than that, I decided to write articles in my areas of interest, work etc. I used notepad to ensure that my grammatical mistakes are not corrected automatically and then used to copy the text to gmail to correct spelling errors. I would then put my SC hat on and correct not only for grammatical errors and also look for more effective constructions. I did this twice a week and found this very useful.

How did I approach various sections?


I have covered most of this before. I will briefly summarize here.

1. Sentence Correction: Focus on meaning is very important, almost as important as knowing the grammar rules.
2. Critical Reasoning: Focus on understanding the argument. Understand the various question types. If you do this then you should be able to do well.
3. Reading Comprehension: Similar to CR. Read the passage efficiently and focus on understanding the passage. Answering questions will be a cakewalk once you do that.
4. Quant: Practice, practice, practice… I used GC’s tests and Grockit to focus on my areas of interest. Look for questions in the quant forums and opportunities when the tests are free.
5. Integrated Reasoning: I did all GMATPrep problems and all the 50 OG problems. The key in IR is to get comfortable with the language of the question. It takes some time to do this. I had to revise at least 50% of the problems and some even thrice but if you are comfortable with charts and Verbal, IR is manageable.

I know this is a long debrief. However, I hope you find this useful.

-KK
KK
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Re: GMAT Lost and Reconquered - 750 (50, 42) [#permalink] New post 22 Jun 2012, 04:10
Nice debrief!
What was the level of IR questions in actual CAT compared to the 50 questions ( or the new software additional questions) ?
All the very best ahead.
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Re: GMAT Lost and Reconquered - 750 (50, 42) [#permalink] New post 22 Jun 2012, 06:00
Great score, Herr KK! I hope I am not being presumptuous in saying that even the former Greek governments could have applied some of your discipline in managing their fiscal affairs. And no prizes for guessing whom a Prussian monarch like myself will be supporting in tonight's Euro 2012 match.

Cheers.

Der alte Fritz.
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Last edited by OldFritz on 22 Jun 2012, 23:25, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: GMAT Lost and Reconquered - 750 (50, 42) [#permalink] New post 22 Jun 2012, 10:54
Congrats! and thanks for the great debrief
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Re: GMAT Lost and Reconquered - 750 (50, 42) [#permalink] New post 24 Jun 2012, 09:51
First of all, thank you for your wishes. I dare not comment on what the Greece government should do... but I enjoyed the match between Greece and Germany.. though not as much as the match between France and Spain.

I am not really sure of the new software: but I did the 50 questions from Wiley (that come with OG 13) and also did the free questions in GmatPrep. The level in the exam I say was easier (now I am worried)
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Re: GMAT Lost and Reconquered - 750 (50, 42) [#permalink] New post 25 Jun 2012, 20:09
Fantastic score and great debrief Kdas! how many questions could you answer on the IR section. Since the IR is non adaptive, I assume the challenge lies in completing more questions correctly.
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Re: GMAT Lost and Reconquered - 750 (50, 42) [#permalink] New post 26 Jun 2012, 05:57
Congratulations KDas. Great Job.
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Re: GMAT Lost and Reconquered - 750 (50, 42) [#permalink] New post 26 Jun 2012, 08:26
Vaibhav, I dont know how many questions I answered correctly (I hope at least 8). IR is a bit tricky to estimate as you need to answer all sub parts correctly. I will let you know as soon as I get my score. I agree with your strategy to answer as many questions correctly as possible but somewhere I have a feeling that GMAC will award weightage to questions as MSR is clearly more difficult (for most) than table and graph analysis.
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Re: GMAT Lost and Reconquered - 750 (50, 42) [#permalink] New post 26 Jun 2012, 08:34
Kdas - I want to know the difference between your first attempt and your second attempt. It is often said that people who score 99 percentile (Stacy's article) often know the sections inside out. They can relate any problem on the test to an official problem. I would like to know did you know tremendously more the second time or was there something else that made the difference.
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Re: GMAT Lost and Reconquered - 750 (50, 42) [#permalink] New post 26 Jun 2012, 08:42
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Pjolie- I remember the article that you mentioned. Its a great article. I would say that I knew the basics even during my first attempt however the difference was in my ability to apply the concepts. for example, I had a much better understanding of causal arguments in the second attempt, knew how to approach strengthen problems involving historical arguments in CR (both from Rajat's live sessions). So while I knew causal arguments the first time, I was not as comfortable applying the concepts.

Another thing that people underestimate is your mindset during the test. The first time I was quite anxious and second guessing myself. The second time, I was a lot more relaxed, probably because I had taken more mocks and nailed my timing and was a lot more confident while applying concepts.
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Re: GMAT Lost and Reconquered - 750 (50, 42) [#permalink] New post 26 Jun 2012, 11:13
Thanks for uploading the "nine things.." document.
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Re: GMAT Lost and Reconquered - 750 (50, 42) [#permalink] New post 26 Jun 2012, 18:28
Thanks kdas for taking the time for a detailed post! It's so helpful to hear the different ways to getting a great score... now I just got to find the one that works for me and pratice :)
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Re: GMAT Lost and Reconquered - 750 (50, 42) [#permalink] New post 26 Jun 2012, 21:03
Great debrief buddy!
Good luck for the application process.
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Re: GMAT Lost and Reconquered - 750 (50, 42) [#permalink] New post 27 Jun 2012, 00:04
Congratulations on your stellar score.

Kudos to the very vivid debrief as well as the inspirational messages.

Good luck with the rest of your application!

Thanks!
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Re: GMAT Lost and Reconquered - 750 (50, 42) [#permalink] New post 27 Jun 2012, 06:14
@Kdas, Thanks for your input. I think that you hit a key point - relaxation. I an not as relaxed during the test that definitely impacts my performance. Can you help me with this. Do you do meditation or listen to music to keep you relaxed for long periods. I need to get this fixed.
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Re: GMAT Lost and Reconquered - 750 (50, 42) [#permalink] New post 27 Jun 2012, 06:37
@pjolie: Meditation has never been my cup of tea (I have tried, believe me). I guess that there were two factors that helped me stay relaxed. Firstly, my approach was a lot more solid the second time. I knew exactly how I would approach a CR, SC question and how to read a RC passage. Secondly, I was lot more planned with regards to my timing. This allowed me to focus on the question that I was solving and not worry about the previous question that I solved. Also it helped that my mock test scores the second time were a lot more consistent as it gave me the confidence to follow this approach.

@gmatsaga and @Ktlenba : Thanks for your wishes and good luck for you GMAT.
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Re: GMAT Lost and Reconquered - 750 (50, 42) [#permalink] New post 28 Jun 2012, 20:49
Congrats .. Thanks for the debrief ..
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Re: GMAT Lost and Reconquered - 750 (50, 42) [#permalink] New post 29 Jun 2012, 05:15
kdas wrote:
Vaibhav, I dont know how many questions I answered correctly (I hope at least 8). IR is a bit tricky to estimate as you need to answer all sub parts correctly. I will let you know as soon as I get my score. I agree with your strategy to answer as many questions correctly as possible but somewhere I have a feeling that GMAC will award weightage to questions as MSR is clearly more difficult (for most) than table and graph analysis.


Thanks for this great debrief kdas, quick question, is the IR before the quant and verbal? A bit confused as I read its order to be after the main quant/verbal sections in some manual recently. Could somebody confirm this?
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Re: GMAT Lost and Reconquered - 750 (50, 42) [#permalink] New post 29 Jun 2012, 18:30
IR is before quant. It replaces the place of AWA after analysis of argument.
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Re: GMAT Lost and Reconquered - 750 (50, 42) [#permalink] New post 29 Jun 2012, 20:28
Great score and inspiring story !
Re: GMAT Lost and Reconquered - 750 (50, 42)   [#permalink] 29 Jun 2012, 20:28
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